VFX News 07/29/15

How Many Shots in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Are Completely CGI?

(slashfilm.com)             Due to the overwhelming amount of CGI visual effects used in the Star Wars prequels, and all the complaining that followed from fans hoping for more practical filmmaking, Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams have really been hitting home their use of authentic, real, practical effects for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They’ve been relying heavily on that message, as seen in the recent Comic Con behind the scenes reel.

But that doesn’t mean Star Wars: The Force Awakens won’t have its fair share of CGI visual effects. Undoubtedly, CG was needed to extend sets, hide puppeteers, and even create entire characters. (Hopefully none are as distracting or invasive as Jar Jar Binks.) However, it sounds like there aren’t a lot of shots in Episode VII that are completely CGI, with no practical effects whatsoever.

Full article:   http://www.slashfilm.com/star-wars-the-force-awakens-cgi-shots/

Avatar 2 Production Delay Explained: Technology Needed Does Not Yet Exist

(ibtimes.co.uk)          Most fans awaiting the release of Avatar 2 will know that the technology (or rather the lack of it) is one of the key reasons for the delay in the film’s production and release. Latest reports reveal some new updates on the Avatar 2 production and explains the reason in more detail.

As per earlier reports, Avatar 2 will showcase the water ecosystem of Pandora and as a result, a major part of the film, will be filmed underwater.

According to Clapway, director James Cameron is planning on using a technology that will help him film breathtaking scenes underwater. The technology that he plans on using is still not present and there is work being done to bring it to existence, and that has led to delay in the production process. (via Day Herald)

“Cameron himself has revealed that the technology will help them speed up the filming process. A lot of the graphics and computer software have been developed at Weta Digital in New Zealand where Avatar 2’s animation and special effects is worked upon,” states the website report.

Moreover, producer Jon Landau earlier revealed that Avatar 2 will have a team which is going to help test out new technology for underwater motion capture. Landau said that they can use animation and graphics to simulate the water, but the same cannot be done for the actors. For this very reason they need technology that helps them capture the actor’s experience when they shoot inside a tank for Avatar 2.

Avatar 2 is expected to release in December 2017.

BFX Pro Festival Tickets On Sale

(bfxfestival.com)                    The seven day festival takes place in Bournemouth at the Bournemouth International Centre on the south coast of England, from the 28th September – 4th October 2015. The festival is split into 3 parts:

BFX Pro sponsored and curated by The Foundry

Monday 28th September

A one day conference of presentations, demos, and networking aimed at CTO’s, pipeline engineers, asset managers, service providers, professionals and academics working within the creative industries. We will be discussing current and future research, services & platforms, and their role within the sector. Our themes will include – ‘Tools for Iteration and Collaboration: Pipeline Empowers Creativity’, ‘The Cloud – Invisible Technology and the Backbone of the Future’ and ‘A/R & V/R – The Reality of Virtual Content’. There will be a clear focus on production and we have some AMAZING speakers lined up. Stay tuned for more information – we’ll be announcing our schedule very soon (you won’t want to miss this).

Presentations, Screenings & Careers Hub

Tuesday 29th September – Friday 2nd October

This unique four day programme is aimed at students, professionals and hobbyists and consists of  screenings, presentations, workshops and a careers hub. Our confirmed speakers include:

Framestore, Method Studios, Iloura, Double Negative, MPC, Animal Logic, Axis Animation, Aardman, Frontier Developments, Blue Zoo, The Chaos Group, The Foundry, Eric Shaw, ILM and The Mill, with more to be announced very soon.

We can already confirm that Iloura will be joining us from Australia to present George Millers Masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road. Dan Bethell, FX Sequence Supervisor (and NCCA, Bournemouth University Graduate) will talk us through all aspects of the film and its effects.

Our  Careers Hub is back, and its going to be even bigger than last years, with recruiters from some of the world’s best VFX, Animation and Games studios. The Careers Hub can be found in the Purbeck Lounge, next to the speakers hall, from the 1st – 2nd October, 10am – 6pm.

BFX Family Weekend

Saturday 3rd – Sunday 4th October

This weekend will be jam packed with family friendly events aimed at those interested in Film, Animation and Computer Games, containing a programme of public screenings, presentations and workshops.


More information regarding the festival will appear online very soon!


Source with links:  http://www.bfxfestival.com/festival/

‘Transformers 5’  To Likely Introduce ‘Beast Wars’

(masterherald.com)               Paramount Pictures has come up with a “Transformers” writers’ room sometime in May as put together by Akiva Goldsman and Michael Bay. The writers’ room assured the next installment of the very successful robot movie series of a good storyline as well as all future films or spinoff movies of the franchise.

It could be recalled that towards the penultimate part of “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, were able to draw support from at least three beast robots, which alluded the possibility that the next installment of the series could focus on beast wars.

Reports coming out as of late indicate that Akiva Goldsman seems to have given the writers a free hand on deciding which direction they want to go in as far as plots and subplots for “Transformers 5” are concerned, details Enstarz.

In a recent interview, Goldsman said that if one of the writers discovers an affinity for Beast Wars, he or she can move forward on treatments that will have been fleshed out by the whole writers’ room.

When the concept of ‘Beast Wars’ materializes for “Transformers 5,” it would mean that the machines will now transform into wild animalistic form.

The beast versions of many of the robot characters of “Transformers” can be found on the G1 toyline series – Optimus Prime is Optimus Primal, Bumblebee is Cheetor, Star Scream is Terrasaur, and Blackout is Tarantulus, and so on and so forth. The rest of the robots from both the Autobots and the Decepticons all have their wild animalistic form.

Martial Arts Legend Bruce Lee Set for a CGI Comeback in ‘IP Man 3’!?

(moviepilot.com)                The magical world of CGI has sprung its latest fascinating surprise on cinema lovers everywhere. For it has just been announced that a computer-generated version of martial arts and action movie legend Bruce Lee will make an appearance in IP Man 3.

It is as yet unknown how much of a role Lee will play in the Ip Man saga, which portrays the life story of Yip Man, the first person to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun, but we do know that Lee was a pupil of his.

Apparently, the film’s producers were unable to find an actor to portray Lee’s intensity onscreen so have decided to use computer graphics to re-create the most authentic Lee in the film.

We have, of course, already seen a CGI-ed Lee in the Johnny Walker whiskey commercial, “Gamechanger.” That ad was directed by Joseph Kahn, who also directed the recent gritty Power Rangers fan film.

Local Studio Wants to be ‘China’s Answer to Pixar’

(CCTV.com)                With China’s hairy hero the Monkey King swinging back into action, it appears people’s interest in Chinese-made animation movies has been re-ignited. And with more local and international talents joining the industry and a more mature financial environment, more local studios are chasing their dream to become the next Pixar or Dreamworks.

The girl needs 300,000 strands of animated hair, almost three times more than a real-life girl, to make this swing appear more real. That is just one of the fun parts of computer-generated-imagery animation. Computers are a necessity, but the believability and acting still come first.

The animators themselves are cast like performers and in this dream-making industry, Hollywood will no longer play the dominant role. On a visit to Light Chaser studio in a Beijing suburb, Yu Zhou, the founder of this three-year-old Chinese company, said that they keep learning from Pixar and Dreamworks. But they do not see them competitors, as the market is large enough.

Zhou said in China you can find capital, artists, and even the most cutting-edge animation technology, but the toughest part is management. In the CGI industry, studios follow a step-by-step integrated system allowing everyone to build off one another’s work, what’s called a production pipeline.

Liu Lu, an industry veteran who worked for Pixar for many years, is tasked with building a powerful management system so this 150-person team can work together.

More international talents have been attracted back to China, looking for new opportunities that are hard to come by in the well-established Hollywood ecosystem.

In the US, animations can take up to 15 percent of movies’ market share. This compares to only 5 percent in China. But more local studios are joining the competition and want to grab a slice of the growing pie. They plan to take advantage of their international experience, as well as local talents and Chinese creativity.

‘Revenant’ Director:  “CGI was out of the question as “the film would be a piece of shit”

(theguardian.com)              Film crew rep claims executives on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, ignored multiple warnings about safety concerns

How far is too far in pursuit of that perfect shot? Filming during Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest offering, The Revenant, has been described as “a living hell” according to some cast and crew, a fact the director does not dispute.

While conditions were undeniably brutal, now Damian Petti, president of film crew union body IATSE Local 212, suggests that cast and crew may have been in real danger. He told the Hollywood Reporter that production executives ignored multiple warnings about safety concerns.

Director defends Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant as crew call shoot a ‘living hell’

The Revenant sees Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass betrayed by his companions during a fur trapping expedition in 1823. CGI was out of the question as “the film would be a piece of shit”, according to its director, and so The Revenant was shot in harsh conditions in the Canadian winter, a far cry from a soundstage in Los Angeles.

Petti criticised what he calls an “it’s all worth it because the picture looks really good” attitude stating: “That’s a very dangerous road for any of us to be on and to buy into.

“In terms of our industry, it’s important that people differentiate between getting an amazing movie at all costs, and safety.”

The Revenant producer New Regency deny these allegations, insisting that on-set safety was duly followed throughout the shoot: “While filming in challenging conditions, safety was not compromised.”

Petti is acting as a voice for crew members he feels were “not … taken seriously” and who fear the consequences of speaking out. Petti claims that around 15 to 20 crew members quit or were fired during production, some of whom “raised safety issues”.

New Regency, in its defence, say it hired specialists to ensure overall safety while shooting in harsh conditions: “We hired experts who worked with us in swift-water, mountain-climbing, bear behaviour, helicopter operations and cold-weather safety to complement the US production management team.”

Dr Who Special Effects Whiz Sets Students a Space Ship Challenge

(aboutmyarea.co.uk)                  Animation students from Barking & Dagenham College got the chance to learn from creative employers and leaders in the hi-tech world of TV and film 3D visual effects and take part in a speed 3D modelling challenge – with one student winning first prize.

The students, who are studying for a Foundation Degree in Animation with Games Design at the College were excited to take part in the challenge set up by leading visual effects artist, Adam Dewhirst.  Adam has worked on popular projects such as Dr Who, World War Z and Maleficent to name just a few.  Up against animation students from two other colleges, the task saw them create 3D spaceship concept designs in just one hour.  All were hoping they would be in with the chance of winning the prize of a £650 Wacom tablet, the type used by visual effects professionals and graphic artists.

Whilst all work was of a great standard, only one student could win and this honour went to Barking & Dagenham College student Dominic Esprit, 20, from Walthamstow. Adam felt Dominic’s design would work well in full production and looked very realistic.

Commenting on his win, Dominic said: “This opportunity has really changed my life. I hope to one day work in this fantastic industry and want to say a massive thank you to my tutor Matthew Phelan for all his help and support and my classmates Viktorija and Francis for being such strong competition, encouraging me to keep pushing myself harder.”

Escape Technology, the technology reseller and support specialists for the digital creative industry, hosted the 3D speed modelling challenge and event. As well as drafting in Adam Dewhirst to set the student challenge, the company arranged for Adam to also be on hand to offer career advice to students on how to apply for work in the industry once they graduate.

Adam, who has created visual effects for the TV, film, music and gaming industries said: “To succeed in the industry a 3D VFX artist needs speed as well as accuracy. This speed modelling challenge is a great opportunity for students to put their technical ability to the test as well as how they perform under pressure. The Barking & Dagenham College students were particularly strong in both areas and I’m positive these talented students will have no problem securing 3D VFX jobs in the future. It’s important that colleges like Barking & Dagenham College continue to train students to the standard they are – making sure the UK continues to compete as a world leader in the art of visual effects.”

Ana Guimaraes, Curriculum Director Creative, Digital and Enterprise at Barking & Dagenham College added: “As a Digital & Creative Career College we make sure our students get every opportunity to work with and learn from industry experts. Technological advances mean that the world of visual special effects is a hugely rewarding and exciting career option for our students.”

Terminator Genisys Crosses $300 million, Sequel Unconfirmed

(denofgeek.uk)                The future of the Terminator movies remains in the balance, as Terminator: Genisys crosses $300 million at the global box office…

When the rights for the Terminator franchise were snapped up in an expensive auction back at the start of the decade, this is not how things were supposed to have ended up. It cost $20 million to acquire said rights, with Skydance and Paramount ultimately teaming up for a proposed new trilogy of Terminator movies.

The problem is that the series, not for the first time, may not get that far.

Terminator Genisys opened back at the start of July, with reviews ranging from not very good to outright hostile. We’ve heard from a few people who have warmed to the film, but nowhere near the number that director Alan Taylor and his team would have wanted. Right now, Terminator Genisys is being marked down as one of the summer’s disappointments.

Free Preview of Our VFX Supervisior Background Fundamentals Series

(fxphd.com)                The new July 2015 term was just launched here at fxphd and you can check out all the great new courses we have on offer in our term overview video.

This term’s Background Fundamentals, our weekly magazine-style course covering the fundamentals of vfx, focuses on vfx supervision. We’ll be sharing a wide variety of interviews with supervisors from around the world. The first class featured Andrew Jackson, the vfx supervisor whose work includes Knowing, Happy Feet 2, 300 and the last blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road.

Check out a free preview from the first class — and join fxphd to gain access to the full series as well as all of our great courses.

VIDEO – Take a look:  https://www.fxphd.com/blog/free-preview-bkd/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fxpage&utm_campaign=post-andrew

Pixar Bets on Better Image Quality

(bbc.com)         Inside Out is the 15th film to come from Pixar’s computer animation studios and it focuses on what goes on in the mind of an 11-year-old girl.

The film is the first Pixar feature to use Dolby Vision which claims to offer a better quality of picture.

BBC Click spoke to director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera about why they chose to employ the process for this film.

Clips courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures. Inside Out is released in UK cinemas on 24th July.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33508826

Ant-Man Crew Insulted At Crew Screening


The Goonies – Sequel in the Works

(usmagazine.com)           When it comes to a Goonies sequel, the film’s original screenwriter Chris Columbus always keeps three words in mind: Never say die. In a new interview on July 20’s HuffPost Live, the filmmaker — currently promoting Pixels with Josh Gad — told fans that yes, the sequel is happening, but no, it’s not on the fast track.

Problem No. 1? There’s no final script. “There are a lot of writers who are interested in writing Goonies, but we’re very protective because it’s such a well-loved movie,” Columbus said. “The Goonies have aged 30 years, so there was a magic about that particular cast. How do you make it work now? That’s a difficult challenge.”

Rumors of a Goonies sequel were first sparked in April 2014 when the original film’s director, Richard Donner, hinted at a second movie, and suggested that Columbus and co-writer Steven Spielberg would return.

Last year, film costars Sean Astin and Corey Feldman admitted they’d be on board, and on Monday’s HuffPost Live, Columbus entertained plot twists and casting ideas. “Do you want to announce that I’m playing Stripe’s brother, or wait?” Gad, the star of Columbus’ Pixels, joked.

Gad had also already thought out how the reboot would get with the times. “What if it’s a crossover so that Josh Brolin’s character from No Country for Old Men is actually what became of Brand? Then you get Anton Chigurh as the guy who’s hunting down the goonies,” he proposed.

Read more: http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/the-goonies-2-is-coming-chris-columbus-calls-sequel-difficult-2015207#ixzz3hCXgyhjd

6 Tips For Becoming an Artist in Visual Effects for Film

(linkedin.com)                 Batman vs. Superman. Guardians of the Galaxy. Suicide Squad. Films like these and many more are thrilling audiences worldwide and are driving the entertainment business. Their success depends largely on the visual effects artists creating the images and action that expose audiences to new worlds and experiences. It’s a growing field with the work being done globally and young people are clamoring to get into the field. However, it is highly competitive and the expectations for entry level artists keep climbing. Read on to learn a few tips if you want to become part of this exciting field.


Visual effects studios working on feature films tend to want specialists. Compositing and lighting are the biggest departments with the biggest demand. FX artists are always in demand, there never seems to be enough of them. You might also specialize in a more niche department, like crowd or character TD. Even though the number of positions in those departments is smaller, the demand is there because fewer artists choose it as their focus. We need modelers and animators too, however the proportion of those artists coming out of colleges and universities is not in line with the demand. While it’s good to learn a bit of everything, focus on the department that most resonates with you and put all of your eggs in that basket.


Having some scripting skills like Python under your belt will make you more valuable to employers. Many think “I didn’t become an artist so I could be writing code.” However, it can be creative, and further, some scripting saves you from repetitive tasks which frees you to focus on the creative choices.


Visual effects artists make photo-realistic images. While we create fantastical creatures and worlds, they are rooted in reality by believably obeying physics and anatomy of the real world. So when you’re creating your own work, create images that look photo-realistic. Study reference from photos and the world around you. It is better to create a simple scene from everyday life that is convincingly real than to make chrome dinosaurs that look really cool.


Know your industry, find out what films are being made and who is working on them. Learn about the leading artists in your area of interest and find out how they got there. Be sure you are using the latest industry techniques and software; things can change quickly in this field and it’s important to stay up to date.


You’re probably reading this on LinkedIn, so you’re taking good steps already. What often gets overlooked in an era of friending, connecting, liking, sharing, tweeting and following is actual human connections. Look for opportunities to meet people in person. Join organizations like SIGGRAPH, get involved in events, volunteer and talk to people. Make friends, follow up with people you’ve met, don’t expect them to chase you.


MPC is one of the biggest visual effects companies in the world and is committed to help develop the next generation of visual effects artists. MPC Academy is our in-house finishing school where we hire recent graduates and pay them to be trained full time for up to 12 weeks, after which the successful graduates join their department working on feature film visual effects. Find out more at moving-picture.com/academy.

Would you like to learn more about MPC Academy? Sign up now for a live webinar that I’m hosting next Tuesday at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5101753012550018306

This is the Power of Age-Reduction Visual Effects

(petapixel.com)          You’ve probably seen many examples of Photoshop being used to make a portrait subject look younger, but have you seen the same type of age-reduction retouching in real-time video?

Digital artist Rousselos Aravantinos recently did an age-reduction test using the digital compositing software Nuke and Mocha Pro. The 30-second video above shows the results of his experiment.

“I’ve decided not to apply any facial markers, to challenge myself (and make my life more difficult). It’s a 100% work in 2D space,” the Los Angeles-based artist writes. “There are a few things i would like to improve, but I felt like it was time to move on.”

The original video is a short moving portrait of actress Michele Valley shot with a Nikon V1 mirrorless camera. You may not think that Aravantinos’ de-aging work looks completely realistic, but it’s an interesting look at what one person can do these days using the latest software tools available out there.

VIDEO – Take a look:   http://petapixel.com/2015/07/22/this-is-the-power-of-age-reduction-visual-effects/