Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
See Andrew Garfield in First Images from Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' See Andrew Garfield in First Images from Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' 6 Things Non-Record-Breaker 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Reveals about the Current Box Office 6 Things Non-Record-Breaker 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Reveals about the Current Box Office Box Office: 'Far from the Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Leads Specialty Openers Box Office: 'Far from the Madding Crowd' Starring Carey Mulligan Leads Specialty Openers Friday Box Office: 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Takes No Prisoners,  $84.6 Million vs. Rest of Top Ten's $10.2 Million Friday Box Office: 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Takes No Prisoners, $84.6 Million vs. Rest of Top Ten's $10.2 Million Guillermo del Toro Feted at San Francisco Film Fest: "I saw my first corpse at age 4" (Video) Guillermo del Toro Feted at San Francisco Film Fest: "I saw my first corpse at age 4" (Video) Oscar Predictions 2016 Oscar Predictions 2016 It Looks Like David Lynch's 'Mulholland Drive' Is Indeed Coming to Criterion It Looks Like David Lynch's 'Mulholland Drive' Is Indeed Coming to Criterion Cary Fukunaga Teams with 'Brokeback Mountain' Writers for A24's First Original Film Cary Fukunaga Teams with 'Brokeback Mountain' Writers for A24's First Original Film Amy Berg's Sex Abuse Doc 'An Open Secret' Finally Lands Distribution, Goes to Cannes Amy Berg's Sex Abuse Doc 'An Open Secret' Finally Lands Distribution, Goes to Cannes Whither Sony? No Place to Go But Up Whither Sony? No Place to Go But Up Hollywood, Please Don't Remake Nicolas Roeg's 'Don't Look Now' Hollywood, Please Don't Remake Nicolas Roeg's 'Don't Look Now' Riviera Maya Film Fest Dares to Bring Edgy Fare to Cinema-Starved Mexican Audiences Riviera Maya Film Fest Dares to Bring Edgy Fare to Cinema-Starved Mexican Audiences Cannes First Look: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Long-Awaited Martial Arts Epic 'The Assassin' Cannes First Look: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's Long-Awaited Martial Arts Epic 'The Assassin' '54: The Director's Cut' Comes to Digital HD in All Its Hedonistic Glory '54: The Director's Cut' Comes to Digital HD in All Its Hedonistic Glory Mark Hamill Shares Vintage Photos from the 'Star Wars' Set Mark Hamill Shares Vintage Photos from the 'Star Wars' Set Exclusive: Louisiana Film Fest Unveils 2015 Lineup Exclusive: Louisiana Film Fest Unveils 2015 Lineup Hear a Rare Recording of One of Stanley Kubrick's Most Revealing Interviews Hear a Rare Recording of One of Stanley Kubrick's Most Revealing Interviews 'Force Awakens' Star Domhnall Gleeson Joins Blacklisted Tom Cruise Project 'Force Awakens' Star Domhnall Gleeson Joins Blacklisted Tom Cruise Project Tribeca: 8 Highlights from the 'Goodfellas' 25th Anniversary Reunion Tribeca: 8 Highlights from the 'Goodfellas' 25th Anniversary Reunion Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW)

Crafts Roundup: Handicapping the VFX Oscar Race

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood December 12, 2013 at 2:05PM

The VFX Oscar race has come down to zero-gravity and an innovative light box, a menacing dragon, Jaegers vs. Kaiju, three dystopian adventures, a "Star Trek" reboot with Khan, "Lone Ranger" train mayhem, and two Marvel superhero stalwarts. So let's go under the hood in anticipating the likely ammunition for the Academy's January 9th "bakeoff" in paring down the five nominees.
0
'Pacific Rim'
'Pacific Rim'

Contenders:

  • "World War Z": The swift, athletic zombie predators added a fresh take to the genre and were quite menacing, thanks to MPC and Cinesite. They moved in pyramid-like hordes resembling ant farms or schools of fish, requiring special rendering. They also used live actors and contortionist dancers to help shape the movement, and it all comes together in the "zombie tsunami."
  • "Elysium": In Neill Blompkamp's futuristic allegory about the haves and have nots, Image Engine and Whisky Tree created the opulent, Bel-Air style Torus space station (a computational nightmare with complex geometry for foliage, atmospherics, and water). Image Engine also animated the Raven bird of prey assault vehicle.
  • "Oblivion": For Joseph Kosinski's post-apocalyptic Earth, they shot the Sky Tower sequence totally in camera in real-time, which Pixomondo stitched together and created a 15K image that would play live on the set on the projector. Meanwhile, Digital Domain created the CG drones, the Tet space station (an inverted pyramid), and destroyed the resource gathers known as hydro rigs.


Long shots:

  • "Iron Man 3": Digital Domain, Weta Digital, and Trixter collaborated on the 14 new "foundation" suits, a rework that ensured correct physical aspects for realistic movement as well as changing proportions and component details. Plus there was DD's thrilling "barrel full of monkeys" plane rescue, shot with live actors free-falling and complete CG replacement.
  • "Star Trek Into Darkness": ILM built an expansive view of this tricked out Enterprise, both inside and out, allowing the audience to get closer to the crew, and built the architectural worlds that define the futuristic London and San Francisco, which was a sleeker and more efficient retrofitting. 
  • "Thor: The Dark World": Along with numerous battles, climaxing in Thor and Malekith's epic battle between the realms, Double Negative created a more lived-in Asgard for the sequel, patterned after the coast of Norway, with fjords, greenery and rocky precipices. Blur (the prologue) and Method (Aether crystalline projectiles) also contributed
  • "The Lone Ranger": ILM did a bang up job of creating train chases and crashes, with the wild third-act pursuit (choreographed to the signature "William Tell Overture," of course) raising the bar to a "French Connection" level of complexity and craftsmanship. While they tried to adhere to a 50/50 live-action/CG rule, the final pursuit necessitated going all-CG for the environments.


My predictions: "Gravity,"  "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "Pacific Rim," "World War Z," and "Elysium. Now if only the Academy's Visual Effects branch will adopt the use of before/after progressions in their presentations to better grasp the complexity of the craft. "Gravity," alone, should prove once and for all the necessity in doing so. 

This article is related to: Visual Effects Society, Best Visual Effects, VFX, Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Crafts Round-up


E-Mail Updates