Images courtesy of DNEG and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Tom Holland as treasure hunter Nathan Drake negotiates a daisy-chain of crates falling from a C-17 cargo plane in a complex mix of practical and visual effects from DNEG.
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who led a Spanish expedition of five ships in 1519 to seek a western route to the Moluccas (Spice Islands). Magellan perished along the way and only one ship made it back, in 1522, but it was the first craft to circumnavigate the world. Flash forward five hundred years, and Ruben Fleischer’s Uncharted spins a fictional tale about a present-day search for two lost treasure-laden ships from Magellan’s fleet. The Sony Pictures movie is a prequel of sorts to the tremendously popular Uncharted video game series, developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The film’s treasure hunters included Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), along with Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali) and Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas).
The On-Set and Overall VFX Supervisor was Chas Jarrett. DNEG was the primary VFX vendor, completing 739 shots over 23 sequences, with teams led by Visual Effects Supervisor Sebastian von Overheidt (DNEG Vancouver) and Visual Effects Supervisor Benoit de Longlee (DNEG Montreal). Other contributing VFX vendors included The Third Floor, RISE Visual Effects Studios, Soho VFX and Savage Visual Effects.
Crates falling from the C-17 cargo plane was part of a continuous 90-second ‘oner’ sequence that mixed bluescreen, wire rigs, robot arms and digi-doubles.
Holland reaches out while a KUKA robot arm holds a crate and large fans supply the wind for the shoot. Live-action filming for the sequence took place at Studio Babelsberg in Potsdam, Germany, outside Berlin.
DNEG was tasked with handling various jaw-dropping sequences, including a 90-second shot in which Nate and Chloe – along with cargo crates and a Mercedes Gullwing car – fall out of a C-17 cargo plane while flying over the South China Sea. Von Overheidt considered the shot “a fun challenge. We called this sequence ‘the oner’ because it’s constructed as one continuous 90-second shot.”
“[For the falling out of a C-17 cargo plane scene] we had several practical elements with the actors hanging on wires and interacting with a stand-in car prop. We combined the practical elements with long stretches of full-CG moments. Some sections required either close-up digi-doubles to hold up, or even a transition between plate and digi-double right in camera with nowhere to hide. Mix that with the disorienting camera, and you have quite a complex puzzle to solve.”
—Sebastian von Overheidt, Visual Effects Supervisor, DNEG
Von Overheidt adds, “We had several practical elements with the actors hanging on wires and interacting with a stand-in car prop. We combined the practical elements with long stretches of full-CG moments. Some sections required either close-up digi-doubles to hold up, or even a transition between plate and digi-double right in camera with nowhere to hide. Mix that with the disorienting camera, and you have quite a complex puzzle to solve.”
To begin creating the sequence, von Overheidt reveals, “We received LiDAR scans and HDR photography of each individual cargo crate and all the other props like the Mercedes Gullwing, as well as a full scan of the C-17 interior, which was built as a set. From there we built the entire daisy-chain of crates and the C-17 interior. At the same time, we also worked on a fully digital version of the Gullwing and the C-17 exterior model with some custom modifications compared to a standard model. Ruben had asked us to create a billionaire’s version of the well-known plane.”
The exterior model of the C-17 cargo plane was built with some custom modifications befitting a super-billionaire’s souped-up version of the plane.
“[Tom Holland] indeed got thrown around quite a bit. All the crates on the exterior were mounted on top of KUKA robot arms so that they could move on a full gimbal in a programmed sequence. They were also modified with extra padding or using softer materials, so that Tom Holland and the stuntmen could jump in between them, holding onto the netting of crates. It gave a great realistic-looking reaction for most of the shots, so we got away with a lot of head replacements on the shots with Holland’s stuntman. In quite a few shots we still went for a full digital-double solution because we wanted the performance even more violent or the camera to be more dynamic than what was shot.”
—Sebastian von Overheidt, Visual Effects Supervisor, DNEG
Once camera, object and body tracking were done, Layout Supervisor Kristin Pratt and DFX Supervisor Gregor Lakner and their teams blocked the entire sequence out, “which is also the crucial step where we’d analyze each shot and figure out what CG extensions need to be added,” von Overheidt says. This also involved finding solutions for any discrepancies between the 3D-scanned crates and the ones used on set. “Our job was to piece this all together while finding the best transitions into CG and amp up the action and movement.” There were also some entirely full CG shots. He adds, “The environment was stitched based on multi-camera array footage shot at around 7,500 feet and then augmented to look a bit more desolate in terms of islands. All the clouds and wind FX and debris are CG.”
Lighting in the open sky was a challenge. “The plates were shot on a soundstage with stationary lighting, but our characters fall tumbling through an environment with only one light-source, the sun,” von Overheidt explains. “DFX Supervisor Daniel Elophe and the team broke this mammoth puzzle down into manageable sub-sections which were assembled to one long shot in compositing at the end.” The team around Lighting Supervisors Sonny Sy and Chris Rickard and Compositing Supervisor Francesco Dell’Anna kept track of changing light directions and found creative solutions to make it all work with the plates, while allowing for a free choreography of the camera and the animation, done by Layout Lead Steve Guo and Senior Animator Patrick Kalyn. “The result works really well and we ended up getting the best of both,” von Overheidt says, “seeing the sun rotating on high-action free-fall moments while coming back into a more character-focused lighting when there is dialogue and we’re locked into practical photography.”
Greenscreens assisted with the construction of a 500-year-old Magellan ship. The ships were highly detailed and complex assets built for every form of action called for in the making of Uncharted.
Tom Holland got his share of shaking and stirring thanks to a robot arm. Von Overheidt comments, “He indeed got thrown around quite a bit. All the crates on the exterior were mounted on top of KUKA robot arms so that they could move on a full gimbal in a programmed sequence. They were also modified with extra padding or using softer materials, so that Tom and the stuntmen could jump in between them, holding onto the netting of crates.” They were thrown around randomly by the robot arms to get the sense of snaking of the daisy-chain. Von Overheidt adds, “It gave a great realistic-looking reaction for most of the shots, so we got away with a lot of head replacements on the shots with Holland’s stuntman. In quite a few shots we still went for a full digital-double solution because we wanted the performance even more violent or the camera to be more dynamic than what was shot.”
To build Magellan’s two ships, sets were split into different stages, LiDAR scanned, pieced together and combined with the overall design.
The scenes with Magellan’s ships (the Trinidad and the Concepción) and the huge helicopters carrying them required extensive VFX, but the scene wasn’t created entirely full CG. Von Overheidt notes, “There was actually a lot of great footage shot on big sets. This sequence really had everything in it. The scenes were shot on several stages resembling different parts of the ships, which we were extending with CG. The helicopters we had designed are based on some classic cargo helicopters, but even beefier.”
In the case of the Concepción, the set was split into four different stages – the stern, the main deck including helm, the bow and the crow’s nest with a partial mast, according to von Overheidt. “Our CG Supervisor Ummi Gudjonsson and Build Supervisors Chris Cook and Rohan Vaz started by assembling the various on-set stages for which we had received LiDAR scans, piecing them together, lining them up to each other and combining them with the overall design of the ship.”
Von Overheidt continues, “The same process went into the Trinidad and any other set, like the helicopters. Throughout the boat battle sequence we picked about a dozen hero shots based on the criteria [of] which ones would reveal the most problems, and we would constantly check whether our model of the ships lined up to those shots. The tricky part is that practical sets aren’t perfect. They may not be symmetrical, or the same section may have different dimensions across the different sets. In addition to that initial step, it then requires careful planning and a lot of work to get to the detail level of a good practical set. The ships were highly detailed, and complex assets were built for every form of action, including total destruction. Both ships were fully-rigged sailing ships with ropes, cloth banners, sails, flexing masts and yardarms, flapping doors, all the cannons, etc. [There were] a lot of moving parts which helped to bring across some of the crazy movements and crashes the ships would do in the sequence.”
“There was actually a lot of great footage shot on big sets [for the scenes with Magellan’s ships and helicopters carrying them.] This sequence really had everything in it. The scenes were shot on several stages resembling different parts of the ships, which we were extending with CG. The helicopters we had designed are based on some classic cargo helicopters, but even beefier.”
—Sebastian von Overheidt, Visual Effects Supervisor
Between the two ships and helicopters, around 20 mercenaries, Braddock (Tati Gabrielle), Hugo (Pingi Moli) and the Scotsman (Steven Waddington) all become part of different fights which were augmented with head replacements or full digi-doubles. Von Overheidt explains, “The journey of the flight was across [some] 330 shots, so we built a massive environment that we used to block out the sequence. Ruben wanted an action-packed sequence. Especially, the shots where we see the boats and helicopters moving through the Karst landscape had to be dynamic and exciting, and we wanted to feel their weight and impact on the helicopter’s flight dynamics.”
Von Overheidt adds, “Now, real-world physics obviously weren’t a priority on this sequence to begin with, but we still aimed towards that feel for a plausible animation and also staging the camera in a way that it would guide the audience through the disorienting action and make the ships look massive at the same time. We basically had to stick to real-world physics while also constantly breaking it at the same time. The entire sequence was a close collaboration between our layout team and the animation team led by Animation Supervisor Jason Fittipaldi and Animation Lead Konstantin Hubmann, and [On-Set and Overall] VFX Supervisor Chas Jarrett, himself whose roots are in animation.
The CGI helicopters were based on classic cargo helicopters but made beefier. They had unusually heavy loads to carry – Magellan’s ships – across the South China Sea, with footage shot in Thailand serving as the South China Sea.
“Generally speaking, working with big practical sets is great for visual effects because you have real references to match to – the real material, the real lighting and how the camera captures it. Even if you end up replacing parts of it anyway, it’s a great start. Actors feel more comfortable interacting with a real environment as well. The trade-off is that matching into complex practical sets can be quite the puzzle for visual effects.”
—Sebastian von Overheidt, Visual Effects Supervisor, DNEG
Magellan’s ships, carried by helicopters, waged battle in the air.
“For the South China Sea environment, we had received extensive footage from a practical shoot in Thailand. Film Production mounted a multi-camera array under a helicopter and flew through the landscape also shooting at different lighting conditions during the day,” von Overheidt says. The original plan was to use this material as practical backgrounds and only extend plates or create specific shots full CG. “As we were creating a digital version of the environment, we soon realized that our team, led by Environment Supervisor Gianluca Pizzaia and Environment Lead Matt Ivanov, was able to create one big environment which would cover the entire flight path throughout the sequence. And straight out of rendering it looked pretty much photorealistic. We presented our results to Ruben, who got excited about it. Everyone was confident that this would be the way to do it. It gave us and Ruben so much more freedom to find great cameras and shot composition that we decided to go full CG on the environment all the way through.”
Von Overheidt continues, “It allowed us to move the camera anywhere we wanted and fully customize the environment to our needs. It made the whole process a lot more efficient as well. Throughout the third act, there is also a progression in lighting from afternoon to sunset. Compositing Supervisor Kunal Chindarkar and Compositing Lead Ben Outerbridge made sure we transitioned seamlessly into these different lighting conditions and moods as we reached the final shot of the Conception sinking and Nate and Sully flying into the sunset.”
Asked if the filmmakers let the look of the Uncharted video games influence the visuals of the movie, von Overheidt comments, “Not from a visual effects perspective, no. I can’t speak for the Production Art Department though. I used to game quite a bit but never played Uncharted before, so when I joined the show, it was actually the first time I checked it out, mainly to understand the characters and some of the main levels. My main influence for creating images comes from photography and graphic design. I get most of my inspiration from actually being outdoors. We had some great artwork from the production team and the Thailand footage to look at. We would also often look at references for all kinds of scenes, like crazy skydiving stunts or video footage of heavy-lifting helicopters.”
Looking at the melding of the big-scale practical and digital in Uncharted, von Overheidt concludes, “Generally speaking, working with big practical sets is great for visual effects because you have real references to match to – the real material, the real lighting and how the camera captures it. Even if you end up replacing parts of it anyway, it’s a great start. Actors feel more comfortable interacting with a real environment as well. The trade-off is that matching into complex practical sets can be quite the puzzle for visual effects.”
With the help of bluescreen, Pingi Moli (Hugo), Tati Gabrielle (Braddock) and Steve Waddington (The Scotsman) appear to walk down the ramp of the C-17’s cargo bay onto a busy operations base.
“Bad Travelling” is the animation directorial debut of David Fincher.
There are sinister underpinnings to human nature which are mined narratively to create stories filled with destructive conflict and satirical humor for the Emmy-winning Netflix animated anthology Love, Death + Robots, executive produced by filmmakers David Fincher (The Social Network) and Tim Miller (Terminator: Dark Fate). The nine shorts curated for Love, Death + Robots Vol. 3 are examples of drastically different visual styles from the likes of Patrick Osborne, David Fincher, Emily Dean, Robert Bisi and Andy Lyon, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Tim Miller, Carlos Stevens, Jerome Chen and Alberto Mielgo, with animation provided by Pinkman.tv, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Axis Studios, Blur Studio, Titmouse, BUCK, Polygon Pictures and Blow Studio.
“In Vaulted Halls Entombed” is a military adventure that descends into Lovecraftian horror.
“When 3D animation came out, it allowed us to do certain things that we couldn’t do in 2D animation. The same with a lot of the game engines. You are able to express an entire world, adjust things in real-time and change the light if you want. It’s not baked into things like it is usually.”
—Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Supervising Director
“Jibaro” is the only episode that is not based on pre-existing material.
Returning as the supervising director from her previous outing on Vol. 2 is Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3), who worked with a mixture of new and veteran collaborators as well as making her own contribution with the muscle-flexing action adventure “Kill Time Kill.” Notable first-time participants are David Fincher making his animation directorial debut with the monstrous seafaring tale “Bad Travelling” and Patrick Osborne helms the macabre-funny, post-apocalyptic sequel “Three Robots: Exit Strategies.” Returnees include visual effects veteran Jerome Chen helming “In Vaulted Halls Entombed,” where a special forces team encounters an ancient evil, and Oscar-winner Alberto Mielgo envisioning a fatal romance between a deaf Renaissance knight and a lethal siren in “Jibaro.” Inventive animation styles are found in “Night of the Mini Dead,” which uses tilt-shift photography to make everything look tiny, Mobius and psychedelic-flavored “The Very Pulse of the Machine,” and in the painterly impressionism of “Jibaro.”
As to whether real-time technology and game engines are impacting the type of stories being told, Nelson does not believe this to be the case. “I don’t know if it’s types of stories that it has affected,” she explains. “It’s the look and how much you can deal with certain levels of complexity. When 3D animation came out, it allowed us to do certain things that we couldn’t do in 2D animation. The same with a lot of the game engines. You are able to express an entire world, adjust things in real-time and change the light if you want. It’s not baked into things like it is usually.” The impact of game engines like Unreal and Unity cannot be ignored. “I’m so old that I was on the cusp of the desktop revolution, and it used to be when I started in the business you had to have a lot of money to be able to do 3D animation,” recalls Miller. “Then desktop technology and software came along and it democratized the process, which allowed us to start Blur borrowing $20,000. I thought that was amazing, but game engine technology is going to be a paradigm shift again. You don’t need heavy machines to render. Even lots of cheap PCs are still expensive and need some technical infrastructure. Now guys can do minutes-long shorts in their basements at home and you can see it on the web. You see a lot of interesting artists doing great things by themselves or with small teams. Game engine technology is super freaking exciting. I feel like that I’ve been waiting for it a while, but now it’s here.”
“Kill Team Kill” is a kindred spirit of Predator, Commando and Escape from New York.
“[G]ame engine technology is going to be a paradigm shift again. You don’t need heavy machines to render. Even lots of cheap PCs are still expensive and need some technical infrastructure. Now guys can do minutes-long shorts in their basements at home and you can see it on the web. You see a lot of interesting artists doing great things by themselves or with small teams. Game engine technology is super freaking exciting. I feel like that I’ve been waiting for it a while, but now it’s here.”
—Tim Miller, Director
“Mason’s Rats” revolves around a Scottish farmer battling with weapon-wielding rats determined to steal his crops.
“Night of the Mini Dead” was created by using tilt-shift photography which makes everything look tiny.
When it comes to her own short, where a squad of soldiers in Afghanistan encounter a CIA experiment gone horribly wrong, Nelson decided to channel a fondness for a particular cinematic era that made action icons out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Jean-Claude Van Damme. “For ‘Kill Team Kill,’” she says, “my inspiration was cartoons from the 1990s and action movies from that time, like Predator, Commando, and G.I. Joe cartoons. They were good fun at the time, and the story by Justin Coates had that feel to it, so that’s where that came from.” Handling the animation was the studio responsible for The Boys Presents: Diabolical and The Legend of Vox Machina. “I got to work with Titmouse, and they’re an amazing studio with a wide variety of different styles. I got to work with Antonio Canobbio and Benjy Brooke who helped to find this look. It’s a 2D style, so it has to be animatable. The character designs themselves are covered with veins and packets of ammo which are hard to animate, but we got the benefits of amazing animators from all over the world, and you can see that level of expertise in it.”
“[For ‘Jibaro’] we used real scans of armor that you might see in museums. When you see the armor, it feels almost unbelievable that you can fit a person inside. The cool thing about this is we don’t actually need to fit a person inside because these aren’t real characters. You can just have their neck. We were using real Renaissance armor. We were redesigning it a little bit, but the cool thing is that we’re seeing something that is historically accurate. I feel that is extremely new and fresh.”
—Albert Mielgo, Director
“Swarm” was adapted by Miller from a short story by Bruce Sterling, and revolves around human factions with conflicting views as to whether advancement should be achieved through genetic manipulation or cybernetic enhancement and technology. Adding further complications is the discovery of an insectoid race that may be of a higher intelligence than humanity. “We have a set of eight-sided dice and roll them!” laughs Miller when describing how he decides upon the animation style, character design and world-building. “It was interesting that we had this short which is almost entirely in zero-G, but we were still going to do some motion capture for that,” notes Miller. “Then the pandemic hit and motion capture was not an option anymore. I didn’t want to get caught in the uncanny valley either, so I decided to stylize the characters to a certain degree, which helps the story not be quite as horrible as it would be otherwise. I loved making the show. It was a challenge to think about the physics of how people move through zero-G, and anything with lots of creatures is a good time. I get a lot of vicarious enjoyment from knowing the animators and creature designers are going to enjoy the process of making this.”
Mocap was combined with CG keyframe animation to produce “Swarm.”
“[For ‘Kill Team Kill’] it’s a 2D style, so it has to be animatable. The character designs themselves are covered with veins and packets of ammo which are hard to animate, but we got the benefits of amazing animators from all over the world, and you can see that level of expertise in it.”
—Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Supervising Director
“The Very Pulse of the Machine” is a love letter to French comics great Jean “Moebius” Giraud.
“Three Robots: Exit Strategies” features the neurotic XBOT 4000, dimwitted and enthusiastic K-RVC, and the brilliant and deadpan 11-45-G examining the demise of humanity.
Self-taught as an artist, Mielgo (The Windshield Wiper) utilizes the principles of painting, in particular lighting, when producing animated shorts such as “Jibaro.” “I create a simple image by removing what is not necessary for the eye to understand,” he says. Themes rather than the premise influence the animation style. “In terms of the girl, I wanted her to be a walking treasure, and in order to do that I was doing research on folklore jewelry from Northern Africa, China, India and Pakistan. In the case of the guys, I prefer the Renaissance rather than the Medieval in terms of design. We did something interesting, which is we used real scans of armor that you might see in museums. When you see the armor, it feels almost unbelievable that you can fit a person inside. The cool thing about this is we don’t actually need to fit a person inside because these aren’t real characters. You can just have their neck. We were using real Renaissance armor. We were redesigning it a little bit, but the cool thing is that we’re seeing something that is historically accurate. I feel that is extremely new and fresh.”
Sheena Duggal is an acclaimed visual effects supervisor and artist whose work has shaped numerous studio tent-pole and Academy Award nominated productions. Most recently, Duggal was Visual Effects Supervisor on the box office blockbuster Venom: Let There Be Carnage and was a BAFTA nominee this year for Best Special Effects for her work on the Oscars VFX-shortlisted Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Sheena is the only woman VFX Supervisor to earn that level of recognition from the Academy this awards season. She was the first woman to be honored with the VES Award for Creative Excellence, bestowed in 2020.
The lack of female visual effects supervisors is definitely the result of a lack of opportunity and unconscious bias – and that is fixable. Earlier in my career, I was told that the goal was to promote the male supervisors, and watched as guys who had worked under my VFX supervision were promoted up the ranks and given opportunities on large VFX shows. It never occurred to me that my gender would hold me back, and I was always surprised when it did. I am a strong believer in diversity and inclusion, not just because I am a bi-racial woman, but because I believe that greater diversity leads to freer thinking and greater creativity.
Good girls get nowhere. Be disobedient, be persistent, never take disrespect thrown your way… be smart and graceful and remember you are equal.
Never stop fighting for the right to be the best you can be. Women spend too much time being congenial, and it’s time for us to speak up about our achievements and the opportunities we’ve created for ourselves. We’re talented, we’re here, and we’re ready.
Even if women break though the glass ceiling, they end up on a glass cliff where they can be pushed off, because there, is no cadre of women to cheerlead in support that is equivalent to a “boy’s club.” We need to be building an industry culture and a structure that supports women in the field and sets them up for success. I take my opportunity to be a role model and a voice for other women seriously; I want to not just open doors, but bust through them.
Change can happen fast if everyone is motivated. We need to do it now.
In having this inevitable conversation, we can’t exclude men or accuse them if we want to create the change we want to see. We must do it together. Women are almost always expected to solve the systemic problems we did not create or perpetuate in a patriarchal culture. A lot of well-meaning people lack self-awareness or fail to understand their role in enabling sexism or great inequities. If meritocracy fails to work, then uplifting women needs to be a conscious choice. I would ask all men in VFX to go through implicit bias training and be active problem-solvers and advocates for women, because people still give men’s voices more credibility. It takes a lot of people to create success for an outlier.
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Michelle de Swarte portrays Natasha who has a fateful encounter with a mysterious baby seeking to control her life.
Upon reading the synopsis for the HBO and Sky horror comedy The Baby, one gets a distinct impression that anxiety about motherhood drives the narrative created by Lucy Gayme and Siân Robins-Grace. The summary states, “Controlling, manipulative and with violent powers, the baby twists Natasha’s life into a horror show. Where does it come from? What does it want? And what lengths will Natasha have to go to in order to get her life back? She doesn’t want a baby. The baby wants her.” When this observation gets mentioned to VFX Producer Anne Akande and Visual Effects Supervisor Owen Braekke-Carroll both of them laugh in agreement. “It’s certainly a dissection of many angles of motherhood!” states Braekke-Carroll. “There is symbolism and scenes that absolutely tap into practical and real fears of breast feeding and abandonment. We were tasked with bringing some of the juicer parts of the script into the visual medium. It’s quite literal in many ways.”
Bobbi (Amber Grappy), Natasha (Michelle de Swarte) and Mrs. Eaves (Amira Ghazalla) stand in horror at the violent chaos that ensues in The Baby.
“We weren’t pushing [visual effects] beyond anything because the show was one that we knew early on was grounded in reality. The baby is a baby. There are a lot of misconceptions about what this baby is and what his agenda is. There are a few moments where we have some heightened reality and he is still a baby, but a bit different.”
—Anne Akande, VFX Producer
Gayme and Robins-Grace had a clear and descriptive vision of the reality and tone of the series. “Siân and Lucy were keen from the outset on getting a realistic and grounded tone throughout the series, and this influenced how we then approached the body of work,” remarks Akande. “We were involved early in the process to ensure that the shoot methodology would be effective and give visual effects enough material to pull off some of the more dramatic scenes. Beyond that giving the guidance, they were also collaborative, open and willing to take feedback on the best way forward via visual effects to hit each story point.” The visual effects work for the eight episodes consisted of just under 650 shots by Framestore, Jellyfish Pictures, Freefolk and Goldcrest. “We weren’t pushing it beyond anything because the show was one that we knew early on was grounded in reality,” notes Akande. “The baby is a baby. There are a lot of misconceptions about what this baby is and what his agenda is. There are a few moments where we have some heightened reality and he is still a baby, but a bit different.”
A key location is a seaside cottage at the base of a cliff, directly fronting the shoreline.
This beachside cliff was LiDAR scanned, recreated through DMP/CG, then combined with plate photography.
Nicole Kassell helmed the pilot, Faraz was responsible for three episodes, and Stacey Gregg and Ella Jones each directed two episodes. “It’s always interesting working with different directors across a series, and in this case they did all have different approaches to handling the visual effects,” states Akande. “Nicole Kassell had a lot of experience in visual effects and had a hands-on approach from storyboards, concept, previs through to execution. Others brought their comedy experience to help drive the storytelling beats, and there was also some experimentation using different shooting techniques and machinery on set. All of this brought an interesting mix that fused with the tone of the show, creating a unique place for The Baby in the comedy/horror genre.” Storyboarding and concept art were produced for all of the key creative beats.
“We definitely knew that we needed a digital asset. By casting twins, we were able to double our shooting hours. The babies absorbed the nature of the set quickly, and we saw them grow up over the course of six months of shooting with them. That left us with a strange, hybridized methodology over time, whether it be face replacements from plates with a CG body, a stand-in prosthetic baby with a head replacement being pushed around in a pram, or one digital arm, plate head and a prosthetic body. There was also an army of stand-in babies.”
—Owen Braekke-Carroll, Visual Effects Supervisor
The cottage and immediate gardens were built on the site of a small quarry which provided the immediate base of the cliff and surroundings.
“To compensate for [the unpredictability of the babies] on set, we ended up treating almost every frame with the baby cast in it as a potential visual effects shot. This included taking large volumes of data and notation for most scenes and essentially treating them as a CG creature in the scene.”
—Anne Akande, VFX Producer
“Concept art for key moments, such as our Demon Baby nightmare scene, was developed by the Framestore art department and was crucial in helping settle the creative vision as much as possible before shot execution,” remarks Braekke-Carroll. “From the storyboards, some key shots were turned into previs.” Scripts for the eight episodes were broken down to determine what shots required visual effects. “We worked closely with the art department throughout the shoot to help find the right combination of set, location and bluescreen,” explains Akande. “A key location in the script that we return to many times is a seaside cottage at the base of a cliff, directly fronting the shore line. Locations were unable to find a site that hit all the required points, so visual effects were tapped to make this work. The cottage and immediate gardens were built on the site of a small quarry, which gave us the immediate base of the cliff and surrounds. A secondary location along the site of a dramatic coastline in Newhaven [England] was the basis for the extension. This beachside cliff was LiDAR scanned, recreated through DMP/CG, then combined with plate photography to combine the two locations together.” Deaths are plentiful throughout the story, but the focus is on the aftermath rather than the actual act of violence. “There is an implied causal link between the baby and a death,” states Braekke-Carroll. “But he’s not necessary physically holding the knife.”
Due to the unpredictable nature of the babies on set, every shoot day could wildly deviate from the plan and the visual effects team would be required to help.
“The sheer nature of the amount of time that we were going to have a baby onscreen and on set meant that a lot of things we had planned for would sometimes go flawlessly without any help from us,” notes Braekke-Carroll. “On another occasion, the entire day might need to be completely changed and require our input for all sorts of reasons.” Identical twins were cast in the title role. “We definitely knew that we needed a digital asset,” remarks Akande. “By casting twins, we were able to double our shooting hours. The babies absorbed the nature of the set quickly, and we saw them grow up over the course of six months of shooting with them.” Digital doubles were avoided as much as possible. “That left us with a strange, hybridized methodology over time, whether it be face replacements from plates with a CG body, a stand-in prosthetic baby with a head replacement being pushed around in a pram, or one digital arm, plate head and a prosthetic body,” states Braekke-Carroll. “There was also an army of stand-in babies. When it comes to performance with our hero twins, that became a hybridized process where we used a combination of digital passes, keying tools, reprojections and face tracking from source plates. Then also leaning on machine learning additional 2D layering to change the performance.”
“It’s always interesting working with different directors across a series, and in this case they did all have different approaches to handling the visual effects. Nicole Kassell had a lot of experience in visual effects and had a hands-on approach from storyboards, concept, previs through to execution. Others brought their comedy experience to help drive the storytelling beats, and there was also some experimentation using different shooting techniques and machinery on set. All of this brought an interesting mix that fused with the tone of the show, creating a unique place for The Baby in the comedy/horror genre.”
—Anne Akande, VFX Producer
The eyes were difficult to get right. “The animation of the performance of the baby isn’t quite straightforward,” remarks Braekke-Carroll. “The eyes are quite loose and gaze differently. We took parts of plates for the area around the eyes for the micro-performance and combined that with CG or machine learning layers.” A wealth of material was gathered from reference photography. “We could be working on something in Episode 104 and there’s a performance that nails it in Episode 102,” states Akande. “Everybody on set was invested in getting us the material. It could be the first two seconds before the take, and that was needed for the face replacements. We also learned about which baby is good at being still or restless. The one thing that we tried to educate people on is that the babies are a member of the cast. If you replace a cast member with a stand-in for 30 shots, that becomes visual effects. Every time a baby was in a shot, the first port of call was our hero baby. The real performance will always be better than the alternative. CG was the last resort, and that was what we let the showrunners and executive producers know from the beginning.”
Face-generation camera setups were orchestrated that proved to be useful as animation reference and being utilized for machine learning. “Anytime we were using a digital baby performance and we would also be running a machine learning output as well,” explains Braekke-Carroll, “rather than treating that as a facial replacement solution we had it as an additional layer setup that could be incorporated partially or fully in with the other renders for the other parts. A lot of the shots that you will see won’t necessarily be a machine learning output, but there will be parts of the lips, eyes or cheek that will give it an extra degree of photographic verisimilitude that you get from that output.” One of the most difficult visual effects tasks was to have a baby falling asleep or sleeping. “We had to find a bunch of solutions and ended up shooting a lot of high-frame-rate plates of the baby and played them back at normal speed,” adds Braekke-Carroll. “We looked for a nice section where it felt like they were sleeping. A machine learning dataset was built just of the baby’s eyes. The high-frame-rate photography gave it a gentle effect, rather than trying to animate too much micro eye movement.”
The show had one primary asset, which was the baby digital double. The bulk of the baby work was handled by Framestore.
In some cases, shots were a combination of high-frame-rate plate photography, digital-double parts and a machine learning layer on top.
Point-of-view shots take place within the birth canal and womb. “We had a free remit to take B camera, get all of the jars of Vaseline, PCB tubing, probe lens, lights, blood, sputum and pus,” reveals Braekke-Carroll. “We took all of the bits and pieces and gelled them up. We got some nice closeup photography inspired by the scenes in The Tree of Life. I was pushing against building a CG interior because, tonally, I didn’t think that it fit the episode. From that photography, visual effects added a layer of fine particulate and endoscopic lensing. There is also the diffusion of the water and cloudiness. But the actual content of the walls was practical photography.”
“The one thing that we tried to educate people on is that the babies are a member of the cast. If you replace a cast member with a stand-in for 30 shots, that becomes visual effects. Every time a baby was in a shot, the first port of call was our hero baby. The real performance will always be better than the alternative. CG was the last resort, and that was what we let the showrunners and executive producers know from the beginning.”
—Owen Braekke-Carroll, Visual Effects Supervisor
The unpredictability of the on-set babies posed the biggest challenge across the series. “To compensate for this on set, we ended up treating almost every frame with the baby cast in it as a potential visual effects shot,” explains Akande. “This included taking large volumes of data and notation for most scenes and essentially treating them as a CG creature in the scene.” The best moment was literally saved for last. “We’re looking forward to the final sequence underwater,” states Braekke-Carroll. “It’s a beautiful and unexpected scene that wraps up the story and bookends the series nicely.”
Aninterestingbellwetheristhe2022VisualEffectsSociety AwardnominationsthatplaceLokiandFoundationattheforefrontwithbothbeingsingledoutfortheirstunningenvironmental workforLamentisandTrantor.“Wewereaskedtocreatemeteoreffectsfromscratch,”statesDigitalDomainVisual EffectsSupervisorJeanLuc-DinsdalewhendiscussingLamentis anditsmoonLamentis-1.“Wewentthroughmultipleversions ofprovidingthemeteors,theimpacts,andthedustanddebristhatfliesaroundthem.Thatwasthentweakedandpopulated throughout the episode because the meteors are a constant threat, but not always the focus of the sequence.”
Trantorisliterally50differentcitiesstackedontopofeach other.“Everylevelwasbuilthundredsofyearsbeforethenext one,sotherewasalotofconceptingandarchitecturalresearch that went into how Trantor and its multilevel structure was designed,”explainsDNEGVisualEffectsSupervisorChrisKeller. “Wecreatedalloftheseinterstitialelementsbetweenbuildings, likebridges,platforms,megastructuresspanning1,000meters, throughtheskyceilingofacertainlevelintothenextlevel.Then you’llseehyperlooptrainsand,ifyoulookcarefully,flyingvehicles. All of that had a certain logic.”
Part of the futuristic appeal of Star Trek:Discovery is the amount of attention and detail put into creating believable UI. (Image courtesy of Paramount+)
Originally,Ampersandwasgoingtoberealbutwaschangedto CGbecauseDisneyhasa‘noprimate’rule.“StephenPughand JesseKawzenuk,ouramazingvisualeffectssupervisors,madeitsoeasyforme,”recallscinematographerCatherineLutes.“Iwas constantlylaughingatthepuppetAmpthatwehad.Ithelpedwith thewaythatthelightwasfalling,andthat’sagoodreferenceaswell forvisualeffects.Stephensaidthatcamerashouldn’tdothingsthat a monkey wouldn’t do. If the camera is a little bit stilted or doesn’t move smoothly, that’s great because that’s what would happen if youweretryingtofollowanactualmonkeyrunningormoving.”
One question is whether The Book of Boba Fett can carry on the Emmy-winning ways of The Mandalorian. (Image courtesy of Lucasfilm)
Nostalgia reigns supreme as Ewan McGregor and Haden Christensen reprise their roles from the StarWars prequels for Obi-WanKenobi. (Image courtesy of Lucasfilm)
Oscar Isaac becomes a part of the MCU for the first time, along with Ethan Hawke, in the Disney+ series Moon Knight. (Image courtesy of Disney)
Raised by Wolves is seen as a better exploration of an Alien-inspired universe than the prequels directed by Ridley Scott. (Image courtesy of HBO)
There is no shortage of monsters to be found in The Witcher, such as a powerful vampire known as a Bruxa. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
The Wheel of Time features a wide gamut of visual effects from creatures, magic and world-building done in a grounded fashion. “One thing that was important for me from the beginning was that this world feel authentic and real,” explains The Wheel of Time creator, executive producer and showrunner Rafe Judkins, “even for the actors and crew, trying to go to places, as much as we can put stuff in-camera, even if we end up augmenting or enhancing it later with visual effects.”
The fact that the sixth season is the grand finale for The Expanse may see Emmy voters finally honor the body of work with a nomination. “The most challenging thing is wrapping your head around things that may not sound that difficult initially, like deorbiting maneuvers where you slow going forward to be able to drop,” notes Bret Culp, Senior Visual Effects Supervisor of The Expanse. “We’ve done a good job and, as a result, it has been made clear to us that we are favorites with a lot of people at NASA and have an open invitation to visit the JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory].”
The usual suspects include Lost in Space, which has been rightly lauded for being able to turn practical locations into alien worlds and making biomechanical robotic beings that are empathetic and menacing. “The most challenging visual effects sequence in the finale of Lost in Space was creating the horde of killer alien robots and sprawling wreckage of their crashed ship,” remarks Lost in Space Visual Effects Supervisor Jabbar Raisani. “The entire episode had to be filmed on stage, and we decided to shoot against black. As both the director of the episode and the VFX Supervisor, I relied heavily on shot planning with our in-house previs team which maintained close collaboration with the production designer to maximize our efforts and bring the series to its epic conclusion.”
“The most challenging visual effects sequence in the finale of Lost in Space was creating the horde of killer alien robots and sprawling wreckage of their crashed ship. The entire episode had to be filmed on stage, and we decided to shoot against black. As both the director of the episode and the VFX Supervisor, I relied heavily on shot planning with our in-house previs team which maintained close collaboration with the production designer to maximize our efforts and bring the series to its epic conclusion.”
—Jabbar Raisani, Visual Effects Supervisor, Lost in Space
For those looking for major robot battles, Season 3 of Lost in Space will not disappoint. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
The Battle of New York scene from 2012’s The Avengers was used as a flashback in Hawkeye, which was released as a limited series in 2021. (Image courtesy of Disney)
A welcome return to the world created by Gene Roddenberry is Patrick Stewart reprising his signature role of Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Picard. (Image courtesy of Paramount+)
Returning for sophomore seasons are Star Trek: Picard and Raised by Wolves, with the former mining the fan adoration for the Starfleet officer portrayed by Patrick Stewart and the latter infusing Alien mythology into the android survival tale produced by legendary filmmaker Ridley Scott. The hardest sequence to design, create and execute for Raised by Wolves was the outerspace sequence between Mother and the Necro serpent in Episode 208,” reveals Raised by Wolves Visual Effects Supervisor Raymond McIntyre Jr. “The flying Necro serpent is lured away from killing Campion by Mother, who leads the serpent into outer space in order to attempt to kill it. This scene was added deep into postproduction, and visual effects was tasked with designing an entire sequence from scratch as no live-action footage existed. Visual effects designs included the flying serpent, lighting design in outer space, nebulas, the planet Kepler 22B seen from this viewpoint, Mother’s new kill scream and a visualization of the failure of the EMF dome protecting this area of the planet. Execution involved creating realistic camera motion for each shot, and beauty lighting with sun flares, allowing for dirt on the lens to show up during flares, all while rendering fully CG shots.”
Making their debuts are Obi-Wan Kenobi, which has Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the legendary Jedi Master from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, an exploration of life on the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike; both of them serve as prologues to the original movie and television series and have the best chances to get nominations for their respective franchises, especially if a proper balance is struck between nostalgia and canon expansion.
Then there is a matter of art imitating life that will resonate with some while being too close to the bone for others, where the viral mayhem portrayed is even more devastating and required extensive invisible effects to paint out modern-day life. In Sweet Tooth, a pandemic causes hybrid babies that are part human and animal, with the adolescent protagonist being half deer, while Station Eleven focuses on humanity trying to rebuild society after a virus has decimated the population, and See envisions a future where blindness has reached epidemic proportions.
A favorite to win at the Emmys is Foundation, which features stellar environments throughout the AppleTV+ series. (Image courtesy of Apple TV+)
A planet gets destroyed amongst the purple haze in the Disney+ series Loki.(Image courtesy of Marvel Studios)
A surreal situation for the cast and crew of Station Eleven was shooting a story about a pandemic during one. (Image courtesy of HBO)
Animal/human hybrids populate the world of Sweet Tooth because of a deadly virus. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
Serving as dark social commentary on the growing financial divide is Squid Game, which combines elements of The Most Dangerous Game, childhood games and Dickensian debt into a rating sensation for Netflix, and is a strong contender to upset the voting establishment. “The game spaces in Squid Game were unique and something we had never experienced before,” states Cheong Jai-hoon, Visual Effects Supervisor of Squid Game. “What we wanted to achieve from the settings of Squid Game was a fabricated yet realistic look, and it was quite challenging to balance the two conflicting characteristics. Especially in Episode 107, characters play the game of Glass Stepping Stones from high above the ground, and we had to create an environment that would make the viewers immerse in the fear and tension. We put the most effort into deciding the depth from the stepping stones to the ground and the overall scale of the whole setting. We could have easily exaggerated, but we strived to find the right balance between what seemed fake and realistic, as it was more difficult than we thought.”
Also, present is the author only outdone by the Bard himself when it comes to number of film and television adaptations of his works. Lisey’s Story was conceived by prolific horror maestro Stephen King, who has supernatural unrest intersecting with personal trauma. Comic book adaptations are not in short supply. A superhero who has a sharp wit and archery skills is paired with a like-minded protégé in Hawkeye, which channels Shane Black’s penchant for Christmas, action sequences and odd-ball comedic pairings. For those wanting an irreverent take on the genre, James Gunn helms the small screen adaptation of Peacemaker, where an extremist murderer embarks on a quest for peace. Moon Knight introduces the Marvel Studios equivalent of Batman, but with an Egyptian god reincarnation twist that raises questions about the mental sanity of the main character.
Superman & Lois reimagines The Daily Planet colleagues as a married couple trying to balance domestic life and a rogues’ gallery of high-flying adversaries. “If Superman is fighting someone in the air where they would both be horizontal, it was much more time efficient and easier on the actors if they can be vertical,” states cinematographer Stephen Maier, who added a physical camera shake for the sake of realism. “The stunt team will often go away to design or rehearse something, do their previs that they film on their iPhones, cut it together and show it to us. We have a close collaboration with special effects in regards to atmospheric smoke and haze. The gags that they come up help to exemplify the strength of Superman, such as him lifting a car.”
Considering the growing demand for content and the acceptance of visual effects as the primary work tool of potential nominees reflect how far the production quality of television and streaming shows have come in being able to expand the scope of creatives with a theatrical sensibility. It is because of this that the Primetime Emmy Awards has become as fascinating to watch as the Academy Awards as both showcase the very best of what can be achieved when talented digital artists get to contribute to the storytelling. Undoubtedly, the eventual winner will encapsulate the highest of level of creative and technical ingenuity achievable under current circumstances and will serve as a building block for what is to follow.
MPC Episodic created a post-apocalyptic environment for The Witcher. (Image courtesy of MPC and Netflix)
Whenitcomestowitnessingwhatisachievablewithvisualeffects, nolongerdoesonehavetogotoatheater,ashigh-endepisodic hasessentiallybecomealongformcinematicexperiencethatcanbeenjoyedbyturningonatelevisionormobiledevice.Thisisnotgoingtochangewithstreamersspendingbillionsofdollarsto create content to stand apart from their like-minded competitors. Theresultisanimpressivearrayofshowsthatarenotlacking instorytellingambition,whetheritbeTheWheelofTime,The Witcher,FoundationorTheBookofBobaFett.Virtualproduction hasbecomesynonymouswithTheMandalorian,butthisinnovativemethodologyisonlyanaspectofthevisualeffectslandscape whichcontinuestoevolvetechnologically.Whatdoesthefuturelooklikeforthevisualeffectsindustryandepisodicproductionsin thepandemicandpost-pandemicera?Thisisaquestionthatwe trytoanswerbyconsultingtheplayersresponsibleforproducing the wealth of content that is available for viewers to watch.
“ShawnWalsh[GeneralMangerandExecutiveProducer,ImageEngine]hasdoneagoodjobofholdingtheline.Placingthevalueonwhatwedelivertotheclientandmakingthemunderstandwhatthatvalueisandwhyitisofvalue.Theshortenedtimelines havebeenthelong-termprogressioneversinceIcouldremember. Coupledontopofthatarethedemands.Nowtheexpectationsare fargreaterthanwhattheywere.Whereisthatbreakingpoint?It is up to us to hold the line as best as we can and inform our clients whatourcapabilitiesandcapacitiesareinordertoavoidthat.”
Image Engine, which contributed to The Mandalorian, was originally seen as a television visual effects studio, making it difficult to garner film work, but that paradigm no longer exists. (Image courtesy of Image Engine and Lucasfilm)
“Now the expectations are far greater than what they were. Where is that breaking point? It is up to us to hold the line as best as we can and inform our clients what our capabilities and capacities are in order to avoid that.”
“Thereismoreexplorationintoideasthroughstreamers.The projects,scriptsandseriesareoftenfilledwithquitefantastical ideasthatmayhaveneverseenthelightofdayonthebigscreen. The content I don’t think has changed. I don’t feel like we’re doinganythingoutrageouslydifferent.Allvisualeffectshaveacomplexitycomponenttothem,andattheendofthedayitcomesdowntohowfarthedirectorswanttopushtheirthoughts and ideas.”
ILM had fun dealing with the Loki variants, including an alligator, for Marvel Studios and Disney+ series Loki. (Image courtesy of ILM and Marvel Studios)
Serving as a bridge between Seasons 2 and 3 of The Mandalorian is The Book of Bobba Fett. (Image courtesy of ILM and Disney)
Final graded image by DNEG that was shot against greenscreen for Star Trek: Discovery. (Image courtesy of DNEG and Paramount+)
“The area that’s getting the most attention at the moment … is facial replacement work, with articles and papers going in-depth about how AI and computational analysis are making those kinds of computer-generated content far more photographic than before. It’s definitely an area that could lead to some very different approaches as to how visual effects are fundamentally implemented.”
—Paul Riddle, Executive VFX Supervisor, DNEG
A massive tarantula was created by Image Engine for the reimagining of The Twilight Zone. (Image courtesy of Image Engine and Paramount+)
“Visualeffectsisperhapsthefastest-growingcomponentof thefilmandtelevisionindustry.It’sfantasticthatwe’veseenanexplosionincontentcreationofalltypes,andwe’veseena consequentgrowthindemandforvisualeffects,socertainlythemoneyspentoncontentcreationiscomingthroughtoallpartsoftheindustry,includingvisualeffects.Asweseemorelocalizedproductionforstreamers,it’sgoingtobereallyinterestingtoseewhatopportunitiesthisprovidesforpartnershipsbetweenlocal visualeffectscompaniesandthosecompaniesinmoreestablishedcenters,liketheU.K.andCanada,andthat’sveryexcitingand interesting to us at beloFX.”
“Onethingweareseeingmoreandmoreofontheepisodicside isthattheproductionsarecomingtouswithadetailedvisionof whattheywantfortheentireseason.Thishelpsusforecastschedulesmorefinitelyandidentifybreakingpointswhenitcomesto tightdeadlines.Fromthat,wecandeterminewiththeproduction wherewecanbestservethevisuals,thencoordinatewithany othervisualeffectsvendorstheproductionmaybringin.Oneofthemoreinterestingby-productsoftheriseofelevatedquality effectsinepisodicsisthatstudiosthatusedtocompeteforthesameprojectsarenowpartners.Asthedemandsforeffectsgrow, we’ll probably see more groups involved.”
Rising Sun Pictures was part of the visual effects team on the live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop for Netflix. (Image courtesy of Rising Sun Pictures and Netflix)
“We’reseeingtheriseofgreatnewprospectsforcounterprogramming,filmandepisodicprojectsthatwouldstruggletofindanaudiencefiveyearsago,andwe’redoingsomoreandmorenowthankstostrategicworkinthisspacebyAmazonandApple leadingthecharge,andNetflixparticularlyso,withitscommitmenttointernationalandlocal-languagefilmandseriesandlimitedtheatricalreleasing.Theexcitingaspectisthatasstudiooperationsbecomemoreintegratedandthesetwomediumsconverge,filmproductioncanbenefitgreatlyfromtheseefficiencygains,andepisodicproductioncanbenefitfromaknowledgebase carved at the highest level.”
“Thebiddingprocesshaschangedduetosheerdemand,and streamershaveacompletelydifferentgreenlightprocessthanthetraditionalstudiosystem.Whereoncewehadtheluxuryofbiddingoverseveralweeksagainstaschedulethatwasfairly developed, and you could bid down to the crew weeks, we are now being asked to turn around more bids in less time, days even. To driveconfidenceinourbiddingsystem,we’rerelyingonamorerobustsetofanalyticstohelpdrivethebiddingprocess.Thatsaid,thismeanswereallyrelyontheperceptionandskillsofourbiddingteambecausenoprojectissimilar,andanalyticsandperformancemetricscanneverreplicatethecreativeprocess.Werelyonourbiddingteamtohavegreatcreativeskillswhenreadingandbreakingdownascriptbeforeapplying metrics based on analytics.
“There is more exploration into ideas through streamers. The projects, scripts and series are often filled with quite fantastical ideas that may have never seen the light of day on the big screen.”
—Drew Jones, Chief Business Development Officer, Cinesite
Fantasy has become a prominent genre on the streaming services, with DNEG taking part in Shadow & Bone for Netflix. (Image courtesy of DNEG and Netflix).
Making use of extensive virtual production is the HBO prequel House of the Dragon, which stars Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen. (Image courtesy of HBO)
“There has been an interest lately in ‘deep fake’ AI and machinelearning,andhowthosethingswilleventually cometobeutilizedwithinourindustry.There’sdefinitely aninterestthereandabuzzaroundit,andwe’veseenclients wantingtounderstandhowitcanbeutilizedsensiblywithout doingitjustforitsownsake,usingthetechnologyforareal creative impact.
“[T]he ‘feast-or-famine’ nature of the visual effects industry has somewhat dissipated to allow for visual effects facilities to have a more stable financial footing and thus provide more stability for their employees.”
—Stefan Drury, Executive Producer, ILM TV
What was originally meant to be practical became a CG Ampersand created by ILM for Y: The Last Man. (Image courtesy of Hulu and ILM)
Expanding upon the Vikings franchise for Netflix is Vikings: Valhalla, with visual effects produced by MPC Episodic. (Image courtesy of MPC and Netflix)
ILM was recruited to produce Nivellen, which was a combination of practical and digital effects, for The Witcher. (Image courtesy of ILM and Netflix)
DianaGiorgiutti:“Forme,theexplosionofstreamingcontentalongsidetheatricalreleaseshasnowcreatedasituationwherethereistoomuchworkandnotenoughcrewtocovereverything.Thisinturnleadstoalotofcrewbeingthrownintopositionstheysimplyarenotreallyexperiencedorqualifiedtodo.TheotherkeyandequallyimportantfactoristhattherearenotenoughVFXfacilitiestoeasilydoalltheVFXworkacrossallthevaryingreleasetimelines.Youreallyhavetobeonyourgametomakesureyouare doing deals well ahead to guarantee VFX capacity.
“For my current project, we awarded the work to our vendors well ahead of shooting, which is something I had not done before. And we awarded with only script pages as reference. There were little to no visuals at this point, so the award bids were very early and based loosely on words off the page. In turn, this has led to a lot of changes, from the award to actual shot turnovers. A lot changes from the script through prep as things are fleshed out leading up to shooting, and then shooting itself. Not to mention the many adjustments that happen getting a film greenlit.”
A greenscreen stuffy version of the baby elephant on the film Dumbo. Hal Couzens was VFX Producer. (Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)
“Not only does one have a diplomatic role to play straddling a few fences to ensure the right info is given at the right time and in the right way, one also gets to see all stages of the project from development, prep, shoot, post and wrap, occasionally resulting in a lovely moment – being ignored – on a red carpet.”
TerronPratt:“Mostrecently,oneofthebiggestchallenges we’refacingislimitedartistresources.Withsomuchcontentbeingcreatedrightnow,vendorsallovertheworldarebooked formonths,evenyearsout.OnSeason3ofLostinSpace,thankfully,wewereoneofthefirstshowstogetbacktoproduction, whichgaveusaslightedgeforbookingtalentwhenitcametimeforpost.Wecouldseeitcomingandbuiltaseason-wideplanfor distributing the work as early as we could. Even with that, we still felt the pinch toward the back half of post forcing us to spread the work a bit more than was originally planned.”
On Blade Runner 2049, Murphy-Mundell VFX-produced effects ranging from holograms to vehicles and digital humans. (Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
A greenscreen plate of actor Damon Wayans in the TV series Lethal Weapon, on which Mark Spatny was Visual Effects Supervisor. (Image courtesy of Mark Spatny)
A final visual effects shot by Rodeo FX for Season 2 of The Witcher. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
A final visual effects shot on Season 3 of Lost in Space. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
PANDEMIC VFX, THE RISE AND RISE OF WFH, AND NEWTECH
“ItwasbacktothedaysofrunnersdeliveringmessagesasevensendingWhatsAppmessageswasasignificantchallenge,letalone runningaprevisoperationbackintheU.K.Givenourdistanceandtheneedtoremainextremelytightduringapandemic,weworked withoutanactualon-setserverforthefirstsevenweeksofa data-intensiveshoot.Thiscreatedanumberofexpectedandunexpectedissues.Onedoesn’tappreciatemultipleusersoperatingon thesamesystemtogetheruntilonecan’t!Herculeaneffortsindata managementwithratherlonghoursfromourcoordinatorsgotus through. Not an experiment I intend to repeat soon!”
“The primary lesson for me is that specialization is not as valuable as it was before. Now you have to wear many hats, simply because there are fewer people on set.”
—Scott Coulter, VFX Producer/Supervisor
A scene from Black Sails. Terron Pratt worked on the show as Visual Effects Producer. (Image courtesy of Starz)
Gray and chrome balls and a Macbeth chart are captured on the set of Season 3 of Lost in Space. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
The entire Macau surrounds were synthetic in this Rodeo FX sequence from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. (Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures)
Karen Murphy-Mundell: “Technology-wise, for me, the latest challengeisweighingtheprosandconsofthelatestLEDwallsand on-setvirtualcamerasystemtechnologies.Wehavetodetermine thebenefitsinqualityofthefinalshotsaswellasthecostofusingthetechnologycomparedtooldschool/traditionalmethods. PuttingupanLEDwallrightnowisanexpensiveventure.There isrealpressureindeterminingwhatyoucansaveinpostand quantifyingthevalueofbeingabletoprovidetempshotsquickerandscreenamorecompletefilmearlier.”
“Therehasbeenanexplosionofanimationoverthelastfew yearsinallareasandstyles,”saysDavidPrescott,SeniorVice President,CreativeProductionofDNEGAnimation,which co-producedtheDisney/20th CenturyStudioshitRon’sGone Wrongin2021andworkedonParamount’sUndertheBoardwalk for this year and Alcon/Sony’s Garfieldproject for 2024.
AccordingtoIngridJohnston,AnimalLogicHeadofProduction, “Rightnow,wehaveagreatopportunitytoseeawiderangeof animationstylesandstoriestoldinanimation.Flee[theanimated Danishdocudrama]beingnominatedforthisyear’sOscarsisagreatexampleofthis.Thesuccessoffilmslike[Sony’s]Spider-Man: IntotheSpider-Verseareshowingthataudiencesareengagedin differentstylesofanimation.Wehavealreadyseenanincrease in the amount of animated content for adults, such as Love,Death+ Robots, and filmmakers are seeing animation as a way of tellingmorediversestories.”AnimalLogicco-producedSony’sPeterRabbit2:TheRunaway(2021)andisworkingwithNetflixAnimationonTheMagician’sElephantandWarneronToto,the latter two due in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
Leecomments,“Aswemoveintostreamingandothernew platforms,theplayingfieldismorelevel,andwehavemoreready accesstoglobalcontentthaneverbefore.So,theaudience’sperceptionofwhatanimationis,canbeandwhoit’sfor–especially hereintheU.S.–ischanging.”Lee’sfirm,BaobabStudios,makes bothanimatedfilmsandinteractiveanimation,oftenreleasing titles on multiple platforms.
Twenty-seven years after Toy Story, Pixar used computer animation tools in Lightyear that were “vastly superior in terms of scale and complexity” to what was possible in 1995. (Image courtesy of Pixar/Disney)
Emiko (Kylie Kuioka) in Paramount’s Blazing Samurai, animated by Cinesite. (Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
Matt Groening (The Simpsons) created and co-developed Disenchantment, which was produced by Rough Draft Studios and the ULULU Company (Images courtesy of Netflix)
WIDE VARIETY, DAZZLING DIVERSITY
VFX firms WetaFX and RISE Visual Effects Studios have expanded into animated film production, joining the likes of Animal Logic and Cinesite, who are well established in producing animated features. WetaFX CEO Prem Akkaraju comments,“WetaAnimatedhasbeensomethingthathasbeen discussedforyearswithinWeta.Wehavesuchawealthof storytellingtalentwithinthecompanythatcreatingabusiness structurearoundthemtohelpgenerateoriginalcontentreally feltlikethelogicalnextstep.Wetahasalsodevelopedarobustpipelineoftoolsovertheyearsthatgiveartistsanddirectors a broad palette to work from in creating a style that best suits their creative project. Now is the perfect time for us to make this move.”
Lookingatanimationhistory,WetaFX’sSeniorAnimationSupervisorSidneyKombo-Kintombocomments,“Animationwasatfirstanartfortheinitiatedonly.Itusedtobeexpensiveandonlyaverysmallgroupofpeoplehadtherequiredexpertise.Butnowadays,animationisaveryaccessibledoortoproducingandsharingastory.Thankstoonlinetutorials,studentlicensesforprofessionalsoftwareandthegenerosityofstudiossuchasWeta,knowledgeandprofessionaltoolsarebeingputatthedisposalofwhoeverwantstolearn,eveninremoteregionswheretheuseofinternetisstillaluxury.Thankstothat,wehavewitnessedtheemergenceof new talents and storytellers that create content based on remote cultures,storiesandlegends.Thesechangeshavearefreshingand enrichingeffectontheentireanimationindustry.Theartisgetting richerwithmorediverseartistsandstorytellersrepresentingawiderrangeofcultures,[and]theworldisopeningupevenmoreto the fact that there is more than one way of animating.”
Netflixhasinvestedheavilyinanimeacquisitionsandoriginalprogramming.Hulualsohasalargeselection.Sonyowns Crunchyroll,which,asofMarch,hadmorethan40,000episodes, or16,000+hours,ofawiderangeofanime,accordingtoRahul Purini,CrunchyrollChiefOperatingOfficer.Lookingback, heobserves,“AnimationintheWesthasprimarilyfocusedonchildrenorcomedyandthegrowthofanimeandvideogameshashelpedcreateagenerationthatismuchmorecomfortablewithadultdramaticanimation.”Headds,“Animeisnotnew,butithasgrownexponentiallyoverthelastdecadeorsowiththeexpansionofstreamingplatformsandexpandedinternationalrightsanddistribution.Manydon’tunderstandthatanimeisnotagenreinitself–therearemanystyleswithinit,likefantasy,action,adventure,comedyandmore.Andasinvestmentintheanimeecosystemandindustryincreases,youwillseethestorytellinggrowingand expanding in all directions.”
Lighthouse Studios, which animated The Cuphead Show!, is based in Kilkenny, Ireland and specializes in 2D animation. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
Cinesite animated Riverdance: The Animated Adventure, directed by Eamonn Butler and Dave Rosenbaum. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
Turning Red has quickly become another top-notch addition to Pixar’s growing library of classic animated films. (Image courtesy of Pixar/Disney)
Kranz (Zachary Levi) in Mission Control in Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, which blends a unique combination of hand-drawn animation, live-action and CGI. (Image courtesy of Netflix)
Warner Animation Group, Animal Logic, DC Entertainment and Seven Bucks Productions teamed on the production of Warner’s DC League of Super-Pets. (Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)
Hank (Michael Cera) and Jimbo (Samuel Jackson) in Blazing Samurai. (Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
AtemporarymovetoEuropebecamemorepermanent.“My boyfriendatthetime[nowhusband]isDanishandwantedtotrylifeabitclosertohomeashe’dbeenstatesideforover10years,” recallsPrahl.“IwastotallyonboardtogiveCopenhagenatry.Wehadonlyplannedtostayforayear,but10yearslaterandwe’restill here.Iwasquiteworriedaboutbeingabletofindthesametypeofwork,butIwasabletogetmyfootinthedooratGhostin2011asafreelanceroto/paintartist.Ibouncedaroundatacoupleofothercompanies,butalwaysfoundmyselfbackatGhost.The atmospherewassimilartowhatIknewfromDigitalDomain,and a giant plus was that the working language was English.”
VFX Supervisor Ivan Kondrup Jensen, Prahl and Creative Director Martin Gårdeler representing the Emmy-winning Star Trek: Discovery Ghost VFX team on the red carpet. (Photo courtesy of Ghost VFX)
“Often, success is a perplexing combination of hard work and chance. Remember that you need both, and trust that you’ll stumble upon what you need, when you need it.”
—Kristen Prahl, VFX Producer, Ghost VFX
Ghost VFX had humble origins. “Ghost was originally founded byafewex-LEGOemployeesworkingoutofagarage[aka trailer],”explainsPrahl.“Theydidmostlycommercialworkatfirst,butovertheyearslocalfeatureswereadded,thenHollywood blockbusters.IrememberwhenwewereawardedworkonRogue One:AStarWarsStory.Itwasamilestoneforthecompanyand alsooneofmyfavoriteshowstohavebeenpartof.Production hasbeenataludicrousspeedeversince,andtodayhigh-end streamingshowsmakeupthelion’sshareofwhatwedo.”
Becomingavisualeffectsproducerwasanaturaltransition.“I’vealwaysbeenabitcompulsiveintermsoforganizingandplanning,”Prahlacknowledges,“sowhenGhostlookedtoexpandtheirproductiongroup,Ithrewmynameinthehat.Istartedoutasanassistantonvariouscommercialsandlocalfeatures,then movedintomyfirstrealproducerroleonLegendary’sfeature KrampusandtheirfirstseasonoftheTVshowColony.Inmorerecentyears,I’vebeenprimarilyworkingasGhost’sVFXProducer on StarTrek:Discovery.”
Prahl celebrates winning the 2021 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy for the Star Trek: Discovery episode “Su’Kal.” (Photo: Anna-Lene Riber. Courtesy of Kristen Prahl)
A milestone for Ghost VFX was being awarded work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Lucasfilm)
One of the favorite projects Prahl worked on was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Lucasfilm)
A number of the Ghost VFX artists who worked on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story grew up with the Star Wars franchise. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Lucasfilm)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was the first film in the franchise to deviate from the Skywalker family storyline. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Lucasfilm)
As technology advances, the role of the visual effect producer hasessentiallyremainedthesame,accordingtoPrahl.“Obviously,showscomeinmanyshapesandsizes,butIthinkthatbeingaproduceratitscoreisaboutunderstandingteamdynamicsandkeepingeveryone’sfocusonthe[hopefully]sharedendgoal.Ontheclientside,itisaboutbuildingtrust,creatingtransparencyandclearcommunication.Internally,it’softenabouttryingtopredictfuturechallengesandneverassuminganything.”Shehasenduredafewtoughshowsovertheyears.“Thehardestofshowsalsomakeyourealizethatyouareapartofanamazingteamofverytalentedartists,andthatyoucantakeonanycurveballtheclientmightthrowyourway.I’vemanagedtobeincrediblyluckytohavesomanytalentedpeopleworkingalongsideme.”
WorkingonRogueOne:AStarWarsStorywasmemorableforPrahl.“RogueOnewasablastbecausemostartists[atGhostVFX]grewupwithStarWars,andeveryoneatthecompany wantedtohelpoutwithanysmalltaskjusttobeabletosayto theirfriendsorparent,‘IworkedonStarWars!’Tobehonest,Ididn’tseeANewHopeuntilIgottocollege.MydadwasabigStar Trekfan,andI’veseeneveryold[andnew]StarTrekmovieand allofNextGenerationmultipletimes.”Overthepastsixyearsthe company’sfocushasbeenmoreonhighepisodiccontent.“The biggestdifferenceisscheduleandpace,”Prahlobserves.“Movie shotproductioncanspanmanymonths,evenyears,dependingon whereinthechainyoustart.Hereyouhavetheabilitytoworkon looksformonthsbeforerollingitouttoyourheroshots,thenallshots.Episodicshows,ontheotherhand,alwayshavenewassetsoreffectsforeveryepisode.Westillrunthroughallthesamesteps, butmuchfasterandoftenwithoverlappingepisodesasthese typically are spaced out a few weeks apart.”
From Lost in Space. Prahl believes that a VFX producer should understand team dynamics and keep everyone focused. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Netflix)
“[B]eing a producer at its core is about understanding team dynamics and keeping everyone’s focus on the [hopefully] shared end goal. On the client side, it is about building trust, creating transparency and clear communication. Internally, it’s often about trying to predict future challenges and never assuming anything.”
There is a convergence occurring between visual effects for television and film, as illustrated by the Netflix production of Lost in Space. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Netflix)
Prahl has served as the production VFX Producer for Star Trek: Discovery since Season 2. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Paramount+)
“This year’s Oscar nominees, for instance, were all male. However, women are well represented in production, and at Ghost we are also starting to see an uptick of more young women coming through our doors. We still have a way to go, and it would definitely be fantastic to see more women in every discipline and at all levels.”
—Kristen Prahl, VFX Producer, Ghost VFX
In recent years, Prahl has been primarily working as Ghost’s VFX Producer on Star Trek: Discovery. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Paramount+)
Prahl has traversed multiple galaxies in her career, from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), one of her favorite shows she has worked on, to Star Trek: Discovery, pictured here. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Paramount+)
Prahl is proud of what the Ghost VFX team has been able to accomplish on Star Trek: Discovery and their capacity to handle the high demand for content. (Image courtesy of Ghost VFX and Paramount+)
Aparticularcareerhighlightwouldappealtoherfather. “Nothingbeatsseeingyournameonthebigscreenforthefirsttime,buthonestly,I’mstillonanall-timehighfromourrecent EmmywinforOutstandingVisualEffectsinaSingleEpisodefor StarTrek:Discovery(“Su’Kul”).IgotnominatedalongsideIvan KondrupJensen,Ghost’sVFXSupervisorontheshow,andI’mso proudofwhatourteamwasabletoaccomplish.AfavoritequotecomesfromPeterPan,whichgoes,‘Allyouneedisalittlefaith, trustandpixiedust.’Often,successisaperplexingcombinationof hardworkandchance.Rememberthatyouneedboth,andtrust that you’ll stumble upon what you need, when you need it.”
Thethemewasbuiltintothenarrativestructure.“Buzzand hiscompatriotsarestrandedonaplanetandneedtodevelopafuelthatwillhelpthemtoreachhyperspeedsothattheycangetbacktoEarth,”explainsSusman.“Whattheyalldiscoverisevery timehegoesonatestflight,becausehe’sapproachingthespeedoflight,timepassesslowlyforhim.Heendsupspendingactonelikeaskippingstonethroughtime.Hisdisconnectwithrealityisthathe’sfrozeninatimethatdoesn’texistanymore,andeverybodyelseontheplanetismovingonwiththeirlives.It’smuchmoreserious thanToyStory.Youcan’thaveasci-fiactionepicadventurekindof movie if you don’t feel like you have real stakes.”
The lighting was complex for spaceship cockpit shots.
Concept art developed by Bill Zahn exploring what hyperspace travel might look like from a cosmic perspective.
ThereisamajorreasonwhyLightyeardoesnotlooklikepreviousPixarmovies.“Pixarhasagreatlibrarycalled‘The Backlot,’”explainsTimEvatt,ProductionDesignerofLightyear. “It’sjustalibraryofpiecesthathavealreadybeenusedinprevious existingfilms,andIknewthatinorderforLightyeartohave itsownlanguagewealmostneedtonotuseanythingfromThe Backlot.Weneededtoreplenishandmakeourownbacklot.Thestrengthofhavingamodelingartdepartmentisthatwewereabletoreplenishourpiecesandmakeanewmovie.”Theartdirectorswereproficientwith3Dmodeling,whicheasedthetransitionof2Dconcepts.“Theywereabletogettheshapelanguageinto3Dassoonaspossible,startbuildingthingsin3Danddistributethosepiecestotheotherdepartments,”addsEvatt.“Weweren’thaving to talk about what is the shape language.”
“I knew that in order for Lightyear to have its own language we almost need to not use anything from The Backlot [Pixar shot library]. We needed to replenish and make our own backlot. The strength of having a modeling art department is that we were able to replenish our pieces and make a new movie.”
—Tim Evatt, Production Designer
Lightyear provides a clever twist on the signature line, ‘To infinity and beyond!’
Buzz Lightyear stares at an experimental fuel cell that he uses for a number of test flights, which results in a surprising side effect.
The physicality of Sox was inspired by animatronics.
Certain poses such as this one pay homage to the Toy Story franchise.
Atmosphericswereessentialincreatingthevariousbiomesfoundonthelunar-lockedplanetofT’KaniPrime.“WhenIfirstgotontothefilm,thatwasthefirstthingwetackled,”remarksWatral.“Onpreviousfilms,wehadathingcalleddresseffects,whichisbasicallyaneffectthatyoucandressinatlightingtimeinourlightingsoftwareKatana.Butthatwasrelativelylimitedtomostlysemi-homogeneousvolumestofilltheairalittlebit.Weknewinthisfilmthatweweregoingtoneedbigplumesandbig vistaswithplumesdressedoutallovertheplaceandallovertheplanet.Wetookamonthandwentinandrewiredthatsystem tobemorerobust.Weaddedallofthesenewsimulationsatamuchlargerscaleandsquirreledthoseawayondisks.Wemadeahandshakedealwiththelightingartistswherewesaid,‘Wehavethesesimulationsthatcanbecachedoutataregularspeed,halfspeed,quarterspeed,andastaticversion.YoucanchooseanyoneofthoseversionsyouwantonthispulldowninKatana.Youpickthesilhouetteyouwant,thespeedforthescale,thenplaceitin the scene and dress it around.”
Gettingaccesstoextrarendercoreswasfactoredintothe budget.“Wehadtostorethisdatatobeginwith.Storageisnotexpensive,butalsonotcheap.Therendertimeisahugething.Weoriginallyexploredwaysatrendertimetore-rasterizethesegridsintovoxelsthatarelargerfurtherawaywhilethecloseupvoxelsaresmaller.Butintheend,whatwefoundisifweletRenderMandoitsthing,itwasmostlyokayaslongaswesplitthelayersseparatelyandlightinghadcontroloverit.Wecoulditerateonthoseindependentlyandhadenoughtime.Lightspeedistheoptimizationsectionofthelightingdepartment,andtheygoinandturnallofthenobsandoptimizationstotrytogetthingstorenderthebest.We’retryingforsomewherebetween30to40hoursperframe.Someofthesewithlotsofvolumesin themwillbealotheavierthanthat.Butthat’swherewe’reatright now. We’re in the thick of it.”
4th Annual VES Awardsves-admin2019-12-05T10:57:47-08:00
4TH ANNUAL VES AWARDS
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 Hollywood Palladium, 6215 Sunset Blvd.
The extraordinary breadth and diversity of the awards were matched only by the extraordinary talent displayed at the 4th Annual VES Awards. It was an eye-popping, visual effects treat equivalent to a triple ice cream sundae with a dozen exotic toppings capped off with the biggest cherry ever.
Showcasing the best work in visual effects for this past year, and honoring John Lasseter with the George Melies Award for Pioneering & Artistic Excellence and Jim Morrison with the VES Board of Directors Award.
Georges Méliès Award John Lasseter Awarded for pioneering significant and lasting contributions to the art and science of the visual effects industry by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work.
BOD Award Jim Morris Presented with deepest gratitude and appreciation by the members of the VES and its Board of Directors.
Below is the complete list of Winners and Nominees for the 4th Annual VES Awards. A sortable list for ALL years of VES Award winners / nominees can be found on the Previous VES Awards page. All archival viewing materials are cleared for viewing by logged-in VES members behind the VES website firewall. For more information, please review the VES Awards Rules & Procedures, Section 14: Ownership & Clearances here.
Please click on the category to reveal the nominees and winners
This award is to honor the overall achievement of the visual effects within a live action motion picture where the visual effects are a visible, essential, and integral part of the story and play a principal and active role in the motion picture. A rule of thumb for defining whether a motion picture would be considered effects-driven would be to ask if the story could be
told without the active participation of the VFX (including Special Effects). On the whole, the VFX in an effects-driven film would be easily identifiable by the viewing public and professionals working in the VFX field.
Fully animated films are not eligible in this category.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith
The Chronicles of Narnia
This award is to honor the overall achievement of the visual effects within a single episode of an effects-driven miniseries, made-for-television movie or special that was broadcast and delivered via over-the-air, pay/basic cable, or satellite transmissions to homes. A rule of thumb for defining whether a program would be considered effects-driven would be to ask if the story could be told without the active participation of the VFX (including Special Effects).
Superbowl XXXIX: Open
Chris Del Conte
Walking With Monsters(Winner)
This award is to honor the achievement of the visual effects within a single episode of a series where the visual effects are a visible, essential, and integral part of the story and play a principal and active role in the show. A rule of thumb for defining whether a series would be considered effects-driven would be to ask if the story could be told without the active participation of the VFX (including Special Effects)
Invasion – Origin of Species
Smallville – Commencement
This award is to honor the overall achievement of the visual effects that play a supporting or background role within a single episode of a broadcast series, miniseries, made-for-television movie, or special wherein the visual effects are not necessarily essential to the telling of the story in the way that the effects of an effects-driven broadcast program are. Supporting visual effects, when taken as a whole, may help create the setting, environment, or mood of an entire program, and are generally intended to be invisible to the lay viewer. They do not consist of a significant number of CG characters, science fiction or fantasy elements, and other highly visible effects that one would expect to see in a visual effectsdriven broadcast program.
Alias – The Index
Jonathan Spencer Levy
Lost-Exodus Part 2(Winner)
The award is to honor the overall achievement of the visual effects within an entire Special Venue project. Special Venues are defined as installations specifically set up to project large-format films (e.g. IMAX or OMNIMAX theaters), theme park theaters that may include a motion-based ride, museums, World Fairs, and similar venues.
To be eligible, a Special Venue project must have been exhibited publicly:
In a commercial venue for a paid admission, which may include the general admission to a theme park or special venue theater;
For a minimum period of one week on a regular daily schedule; and
Premiered in the current awards year in a Special Venue theater as defined above.
The following are not eligible in this category, regardless of the material’s original capture format:
Special purpose events such as trade shows and conventions;
Video material generally referred to as “pre-show” material;
Repurposed films, i.e. projects initially intended for the theatrical market but which have been blown up for exhibition in large-format Special Venue theaters;
Projects that were created as conventional 2D theatrical presentations but have been repurposed to stereographic 3D;
Any 2D or stereographic 3D feature motion picture that either premiered first, or simultaneously, in any regular movie theater or in any broadcast medium;
Any project that runs for an equal or greater amount of time in any regular movie theater or in any broadcast medium; and
Movies intended for simultaneous distribution in both Special Venue and normal movie theaters. The intent of this category is to honor those projects made specifically for the Special Venue market.
Curse of Darkcastle…The Ride!
Deepo´s 3-D Underwater Wondershow
Chris Del Conte
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon(Winner)