State of the Art - The Industrial Light and Magic special effects thread

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by ShaneP, Aug 3, 2009.

  1. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Trailer is already available:

    Cowboys and Aliens

    Good question though, I suspect Roger Guyett or Pablo Helman.
  2. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    My money is on Guyett simply because Helman just barely finished The Last Airbender so it seems kinda close.

    By the way, Bill George is the supervisor on I Am Number Four.

    And Grady Cofer is on Battleship.
  3. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    You know, I bet you're right. Now that I remember Pablo Helman just went to Argentina to talk at a VFX conference down there. Although it was on a Saturday it would be difficult such a long trip right in the middle of production.
  4. michealB Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2010
    Thanks, guys.

    according to this article, pablo helman will be one of the two supervisor for battlship, along with grady cofer

    http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118027466?refCatId=13
  5. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Thanks for the heads up, sometimes I can't access Variety, so I just wait for a second hand report. I wonder if John Knoll will be that busy that he won't be able to take another project on the side. It's interesting that ILM also acquired a great deal of seat of Ocula, a Nuke plugin for stereo work.
  6. lionlisure Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Guyett is also confirmed as supe on Cowboys/Aliens.

    I also hope that Knoll is not just tied up for the next 6 years on the star wars 3d conversions. Seems a long time for such a great supe to be bogged down on films he's already done once. Surely he'll just be available for input and advice, and will continue on other projects in tandem?

    With two supes on Battleship it looks like it's shaping up to be a huge project.

    So with ILM taking over the role of production supervisor I'm assuming it's in a better position to control the shots they produce in house? Keeping the interesting stuff and farming out the less demanding work? So a show like Iron Man 2 for example, they might have done the suitcase suit aswell rather than production farming it out to Double Negative? Or at least been the ones to make the call.
  7. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    So Helman will be on Battleship too? Cool.

    As for Knoll being tied up with the 3D SW conversions, he has stated they will be conversions only with no new material added. And ILM will oversee the project while the vendors will actually do the conversion work.

    So I see no reason why Knoll couldn't take on additional projects once the conversion ball gets rolling. Remember, they're just releasing the films over six years, not working on them over six.

    lionlisure
    So with ILM taking over the role of production supervisor I'm assuming it's in a better position to control the shots they produce in house? Keeping the interesting stuff and farming out the less demanding work? So a show like Iron Man 2 for example, they might have done the suitcase suit aswell rather than production farming it out to Double Negative? Or at least been the ones to make the call.

    Well this is similar to what happened in the mid-80's when ILM started to co-produce films. They got out of it for a while when the studios brought back their fx departments. But now we're back there again with ILM co-producing the films.

    And make no mistake, summer tentpoles rely so heavily on fx today, ILM will be nothing less than a full-on co-producer of these films.
  8. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    That's not exactly what I got from the article, it seemed a bit more vague to me. I took it too mean that ILM will serve as overall production VFX supervision but maybe not a larger role as "coproducing role" like in the 80s (especially the Trel films). Or maybe there is no distinction.

    The other thing is that it wasn't clear on which projects they would "coproduce", especially in that list of upcoming projects. I can imagine that on the Paramount and Universal films, but not on other like Sony and Disney.
  9. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Rereading that article, I think your viewpoint is more valid than my initial comparison to the 80's co-producer role.

    It will be interesting to see what projects they do end up providing vfx management to. It's kinda surprising the studios have let their vfx departments go again.
  10. michealB Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2010
    sorry, a bit off topic from the last discussion, but i have a curiosity: everytime i watch war of the worlds, i'm always impressed by that sequence when the tripod emerges from the ground for the first time and we can see the terrain and the dust falling down from the surface of the giant machine. do you know if they use actual terrain or is it all cg?
  11. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    That is a great sequence. It's a combo of practically shot miniature debris, church(city hall?) miniature, location plate photography, and CG.

    It has everything.
  12. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Maybe I'm just being obtuse and there is really no difference between what they did in the 80s and now. I guess Kmart would know better, I'm just too lazy to look for the old Cinefexes to see if there was any more details there.

    Yep, like Shane mentioned. More specifically all thos practical elements (miniatures, plate photography, digimattes), were reprojected unto CG stand-ins in the comp. The recent ILM documentary showed how some of the sequences of the film were assembled.

    You can actually read a description at CGW:

    Acts of War
  13. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    So I recently purchased the The Making of Avatar book by Jody Duncan and the DVD collector's set of the film.

    Both are terrific. The book does a great job detailing the development of the film from Cameron's original treatment in '95 through to ILM's Brother Termite test and their proof of concept for the film and beyond.

    The blu-ray set of the collector's edition contains not only ILM's test for the film but also their Brother Termite test .

    It was stated in the book it was this test, combined with Weta's Gollum, that convinced Cameron he could accurately capture an actor's performance through mo-capture.

    Check them out.
  14. lionlisure Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Aug 24, 2009
    Shane, could you say how the ILM test looks compared to the finished film ? How is the movement and facial animation? Is it as photoreal as in the film? Also what is Brother Termite ? Never heard of this. How does that test look and how is it related to Avatar?

    Thanks for any info.
  15. michealB Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2010
    Thanks very much shane and malducin for the informations about war of the worlds. very informative article too. it's a combo of minatures, cg and pratical elements; about the shots of the dust falling i thought it looked too real to be made via computer graphic...i think it would be very difficult to achieve that level of realism even with 2010 technology. i'm curious too about ILM avatar test: i heard cameron was not very satisfied of the result. but i read this from a user on imdb avatar forum, so probably it's only a rumor.
  16. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Whoa!!!! Must .... get ... Bluray .... and .... book ... for .... holidays .... must ... fight ... urge

    Brother Termite was a project Cameron tried to direct back in the early 2000s (2001-2002) based on a novel of the same name about aliens. There were some tests developed by ILM that convinced Cameron that mocap technology was maturing enough to be usable for his projects and eventually Avatar.

    Can't comment on the Brother Termite test but back then I saw ILM's Hugo facial mocap test and I thought it was fantastic. We're talking aborund the time of Ep. 1 or 2 and the few other examples were things like uCap for Matrix 2, systems way beyond what was possible with regular facial mocap back then. I think ILM thought the Hugo test was not ready for primetime (they told me they would stull use keyframes) but was very close to be another arsenal in the toolset. You can see a picture of the Hugo test here:

    Why Is This Man Smiling?
  17. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    The test was done in 2006 and was done as a proof of concept to show Fox Studios that Avatar could be done. I was actually surprised how damn close it looked to the finished film. Yes, there is not the final little touchups that final shots have, but it is very good for 2006 and impressed Fox enough that they greenlit the project.

    Brother Termite test was in 2001 and was a project that Cameron tried both keyframe animation on and the mo cap. The mo cap test is the one on the Blu-ray as it so impressed Cameron that he knew he could move ahead on Avatar using primarily performance capture not key frame aniamtion.

    Basically what you got was a little tiny guy with a big head walking around talking to a woman in as cemetery. He almost reminds me of some alien Men in Black agent.
  18. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Very much a rumour. The opposite is true. It was ILM's test that impressed Fox Studios enough that they greenlit the project. The test is about 30 seconds long and takes place in the Pandoran jungle. I was actually struck by how close to the finished film it looked. Cameron apparently was very detailed about how he wanted that planet and the Navi to look from the get go. As we've talked about on here, the test was supervised by Dennis Muren.
    Now Jake and Neytiri do look somewhat different but that's mostly because they were portrayed by different actors for the test. The facial structures are different than the ones Saldana and Worthington brought to life.
  19. michealB Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2010

    now i'm curious to see the test:)

    i wonder why cameron didn't choose ILM then. btw the work done by WETA is stunning.
  20. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Cost. One of the things Cameron wanted was a rock solid up-front bid regardless of future changes he would make.

    But WETA did do an amazing job and ILM eventually ended up working on it anyway. So, win-win.
  21. Kaero_Shan Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 1, 2006

    Are these tests only on the blu-ray set, or ar they also available on the DVD set?


    So ILM charges future changes always, whereas Weta doesn't?
    But shouldn`t they change this behaviour in some cases in order to get the main vfx-provider for real big films like Avatar was without a doubt?
  22. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    As far as I know the fx tests are on the extended collector's edition only. They are not on the regular blu-ray set.

    Another interesting tidbit from the Making of book. John Knoll mentions that when they were approached by Lightstorm to help finish the film, ILM told them they could only do a certain amount of shots because they were booked solid and had limited resources to take on hundreds of shots. He said they would likely be able to take on more shots than they ended up with so long as they were similar in type, but not wildly varying shots. So Knoll told them the final battle would be a good thing to help out on along with the journey to the floating mountains because they all had similar type elements(copters, floating mtns, long shots of Navi, banshees, etc).
  23. SpoonNap Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Any source on that info? Did WETA end up signing on for work without consideration for future work?
  24. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Here's an interview with an artist at ILM Singapore.

    There's also an interesting blurb from the GM of the studio about Lucas' upcoming non-SW animated feature:

    Here's that part:

    Lucas himself is so confident in the Singapore team that he is planning to produce his next feature film entirely in the studio.

    Details are top-secret except for the fact that it will be a totally new property instead of being another "Star Wars" derivative.

    "What we're trying to do doesn't look like everything that has been done before," general manager Nicolas said.




    Link: Ong and Lucasfilm Singapore
  25. malducin Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    Asfar as I understand it, lots of bids in VFX are more or less hard with allowances for some flexibility (revisions, shot numbers). That's why many times you have last min. farm out work and some renegotiation. And we know Cameron has the knack for tweaking till the last min. even if the whole film had been exsenvily prevized or storyboarded.

    Most facilities have been at either end of this. ILM during the 2000s became a 911 facility, even in projects they made bids. They have also been at the other end, most notoriously on The Mummy 2, and sorta (as far as I understand) the cancelled Frankenstein project.