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The VFX Files

COW Library : The VFX Files
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A Creative COW series of articles opening up the Visual Effects world, featuring interviews with visual effects supervisors, pioneers, award winners and ground-breakers.
 
TV & Movie Appreciation
A Distinctive LOOK For 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

A Distinctive LOOK For 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

In his third time working with Wes Anderson, LOOK Effects VFX Supervisor Gabriel Sanchez helped implement the director's singular vision on The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Tim Wilson
Art of the Edit
Under the Dome with Encore VFX Supervisor Stephan Fleet

Under the Dome with Encore VFX Supervisor Stephan Fleet

Visual effects are at the heart of Under the Dome, a hit CBS drama based on a novel by Stephen King, about a town trapped under an invisible dome that isolates it from the rest of the world. Read how Encore VFX created the dome itself for Season One, and other effects, as well as providing a full range of on-set and post services, all while translating the languages of many different disciplines into a single, unified vision.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Stephan Fleet
Adobe After Effects
mocha Tracks The Wolf of Wall Street

mocha Tracks The Wolf of Wall Street

With multiple VFX Oscars (Hugo and Titanic, plus a nomination for Apollo 13) plus a couple of Emmys (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) under his belt, the most remarkable thing about Rob Legato's latest VFX extravaganza is that it doesn't appear to have any VFX at all! Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is a masterpiece of what has become known as invisible effects, and this article from our friends at Imagineer, highlighting Rob's work with mocha, is a real eye-opener.

Editorial, Feature
Imagineer Systems
TV & Movie Appreciation
Method Studios Creates Dramatic Effects for Divergent

Method Studios Creates Dramatic Effects for Divergent

Method Studios was selected as the lead VFX vendor, who ultimately proved to provide 381 shots for Summit Entertainment's Divergent. Set in a dystopian Chicago, one hundred years in the future, the film demanded seamless and invisible VFX to create a believable world of complex environments using set extensions, digital doubles and CG characters.

Editorial, Feature
Method Studios
Audio Professionals
The Trouble With Rain: Designing the Sounds of Noah

The Trouble With Rain: Designing the Sounds of Noah

To add new dimensions to the soundscapes of Darren Aronofsky's Noah, Supervising Sound Editor Craig Henighan took advantage of the new Dolby Atmos mixing stage at Deluxe New York to place movie audiences in the middle of the storm.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Tim Wilson
Art of the Edit
LOOK Effects Takes Wing in Noah

LOOK Effects Takes Wing in Noah

LOOK Effects is proud to announce their visual effects contribution to Darren Aronofsky's latest film, "Noah," from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises, which opened in theaters March 28.

Editorial, Feature
LOOK Effects
Art of the Edit
The Hitchiker's Guide to Monuments Men and a Career in VFX

The Hitchiker's Guide to Monuments Men and a Career in VFX

Jon Neill is one of the VFX Supervisors at Cinesite, and Creative COW's Tim Wilson spoke with him from the company's London office. A conversation that began with Jon's recent work on Monuments Men wound up taking in James Bond, John Carter, and some very practical advice for VFX artists who want to grow into leadership roles.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Tim Wilson
TV & Movie Appreciation
Climbing Mountains to Make Lone Survivor

Climbing Mountains to Make Lone Survivor

"We are going to climb mountains" - that's what director Peter Berg told Petra Holtorf-Stratton before they began work on his movie, Lone Survivor. "And we did," she told us, "literally and figuratively." Petra tells us about making this powerful film based on the true story of a Navy SEAL's ordeal in Afghanistan, and also about her remarkable transition from VFX artist to movie producer.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Petra Holtorf-Stratton
TV & Movie Appreciation
Doctor Who 50th Anniversary-Milk's VFX for Day of the Doctor

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary-Milk's VFX for Day of the Doctor

When The Mill in London decided to close its TV and Film Department, the staff decided to open up VFX house Milk. They brought with them a first, very challenging job, which was begun at The Mill: creating stereo 3D effects for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Here's how the newly launched company took charge to create some memorable VFX.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with Editor Alan E. Bell

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with Editor Alan E. Bell

When we last touched base with editor and longtime Creative COW member and community leader, Alan Edward Bell, ACE, he had just finished cutting The Amazing Spider-Man. For The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, we find him reunited with director Francis Lawrence, for whom he edited Water for Elephants. Bell talks about the challenges of editing Catching Fire and some of the gear choices he made to improve the pipeline's efficiency.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Adobe After Effects
VFX & Motion Graphics on Star Trek: Into Darkness

VFX & Motion Graphics on Star Trek: Into Darkness

Andrew Kramer of Bad Robot and author/owner of the site Video Copilot was tapped to create more than 30 title sequences for the resurrection of the classic science fiction franchise with Star Trek: Into Darkness, while the OOOii team created stunning graphics and heads-up displays for the blockbuster film. OOOii CEO Kent Demaine, Lead Designer Jorge Almeida and Andrew Kramer shared their great experiences working on the latest seminal Star Trek film.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Adobe
Adobe After Effects
Delivering Content for TV's Top Shows

Delivering Content for TV's Top Shows

Delivering content for some of television's top shows, including House of Lies, Grey's Anatomy, and, of course The Walking Dead, Stargate Studios continues to break the mold of how feature films, television series, electronic games, and commercials are generated. In this article, read how Adobe Creative Cloud and automation create a competitive edge for the iconic production studio, Stargate Studios.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Adobe
TV & Movie Appreciation
John Dykstra, ASC: VFX Then and Now

John Dykstra, ASC: VFX Then and Now

Creative COW recently had the great pleasure of speaking to visual effects pioneer John Dykstra, whose work first came to prominence on the original Star Wars. Dykstra received his first Academy Award for his work on Star Wars, and, the same year, won an Academy Scientific and Engineering Award for the Dykstraflex motion-control camera that made so many of Star Wars' effects possible. Join us as he shares behind the scenes on Star Wars, speaks about his transition from an artist to a VFX supervisor, and gives us his thoughts on the state of VFX today.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
John Dykstra, ASC
TV & Movie Appreciation
Creating the 3D in Gravity

Creating the 3D in Gravity

Gravity, the highly-acclaimed, intensely emotional space thriller, has been hailed as some of the - if not the VERY - best 3D footage ever seen on the big screen. This has led to some surprise when learning that Gravity was NOT shot in 3D. However, it wasn't entirely converted in post either. It featured an innovative and unique workflow that incorporated 3D conversion during production as well as a complex integration with 3D VFX. In a conversation with Prime Focus World, we find out how they did it.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
Story Stuff Is Story Stuff

Story Stuff Is Story Stuff

Insights for becoming a better writer easily make the transition to the editing world. Kylee Wall gleans from the masters - Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard, Palahniuk - and highlights simple ways to finesse your storytelling abilities.

Editorial, Feature
Kylee Wall
Adobe After Effects
Fans OCCUPY Conan With Self-Produced Parodies

Fans OCCUPY Conan With Self-Produced Parodies

Lead editor Dan Dome and editors Robert Ashe, Jr., Chris Heller and David Grecu all put together OCCUPY Conan, a fan-sourced episode of the popular late night show. It's harder than it sounds, and that's why the Conan Editing Team is now up for an Emmy for Outstanding Multicam Editing for a Comedy Series.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
Elysium: Insights From The VFX Supervisors

Elysium: Insights From The VFX Supervisors

Vancouver-based VFX facility Image Engine was the VFX unit for Elysium as well as the lead VFX vendor. Associate Visual Effects Supervisor Andrew Chapman and overall Production Visual Effects Producer Shawn Walsh talk about how their company handled the visual effects works from pre-production through to completion.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
Creating the Details of Elysium's Luxury World

Creating the Details of Elysium's Luxury World

VFX facility Whiskytree accomplished approximately 80 shots in Elysium, all of them focusing on the creation of the mansions, municipal buildings, flora and fauna of the wealthy enclave on the torus. Lead VFX house Image Engine and Whiskytree created an unusually close collaboration to get the job done.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
Inside Elysium with Director Neill Blomkamp

Inside Elysium with Director Neill Blomkamp

Five journalists sat in on a round-table interview with Elysium writer-director Neill Blomkamp a week prior to the film's debut. In this intimate portrait, Neill talks about what inspired the film, how he takes an organic, artistic approach to filmmaking, and how his own history, including being a VFX artist, creates a different kind of drive as a director.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
Pacific Rim Animated by Industrial Light & Magic

Pacific Rim Animated by Industrial Light & Magic

When director Guillermo Del Toro conceived the battle between the Kaiju monsters and human-controlled Jaeger robots, he knew the best possible VFX facility to bring this vision to reality would be Industrial Light & Magic, the company that pioneered CG creature-creation. In an unusually close collaboration between director and VFX facility, Pacific Rim gets up-close-and-personal with organic and metallic creatures that are both believable and thrilling.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
Covert Affairs and Suits with Online Editor Scott Freeman

Covert Affairs and Suits with Online Editor Scott Freeman

Scott Freeman figured out how to use Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve in an innovative way to dramatically speed up media matching in the online editing process for USA Network's dramas, "Suits" and "Covert Affairs." He describes how he round-trips between the Avid Symphony and the DaVinci Resolve and why he wants every other online editor to learn his trick.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Scott Freeman
ARRI
The Lone Ranger: A Contemporary Style for a Classic Genre

The Lone Ranger: A Contemporary Style for a Classic Genre

When cinematographer Bojan Bazelli, ASC decided to shoot The Lone Ranger with 35mm film, he also realized that some of the scenes might best be served with a digital camera. Choosing the ARRI Alexa Studio for the film's anamorphic look and Codex recorders, Bazelli was able to create a filmic look in digital that seamlessly integrated with the 35mm footage.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
David Heuring
Film History & Appreciation
White House Down: Method Studios Wreaks CG Havoc

White House Down: Method Studios Wreaks CG Havoc

Method Studios Vancouver created 185 shots on White House Down, including digital doubles of people and places -- and LOTS of explosions. Method's VFX Supervisor and VFX Producer tell us how their crew of just 80 artists put it all together.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Ollie Rankin
Art of the Edit
Now You See Me: Modus FX Helps Create the Magic

Now You See Me: Modus FX Helps Create the Magic

Modus FX created 227 visual effects shots in Now You See Me, a movie starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson and Isla Fisher about four young magicians who appear to rob banks during their performances, distributing the spoils to their audiences, while the FBI and Interpol pursue them. Launched in 2007 by co-founders Marc Bourbonnais and Yanick Wilisky, Modus FX is located in a 12,000 square foot facility just outside Montreal. Modus was charged with many of the film's CG-heavy sequences, including the 5Pointz segment, which was almost entirely CG. In this article Modus FX visual effects supervisor Wayne Brinton takes Creative COW readers behind the scenes of the company's VFX magic.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Wayne Brinton
TV & Movie Appreciation
Star Trek Into Darkness & the Dolby PRM-4200 Monitor

Star Trek Into Darkness & the Dolby PRM-4200 Monitor

On Star Trek Into Darkness, VFX producer Ron Ames was concerned about standardizing color information between production company Bad Robot and the VFX companies ILM and Pixomondo as well as DI facility Company 3. The solution was installing Dolby's PRM-4200, a professional reference monitor that can be calibrated so that every one shows the exact same color. In this article, Ames and Pixomondo VFX supervisor Ben Grossman talk about how the Dolby Professional Reference Monitor improved the workflow and gave them the confidence that everyone was seeing the same thing.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
How Editors Shaped The Story of Star Trek: Into Darkness

How Editors Shaped The Story of Star Trek: Into Darkness

The old saying is that the edit is the final version of the script. For editors Mary Jo Markey, A.C.E. and Maryann Brandon, A.C.E, their work on Star Trek: Into Darkness began far earlier than that -- when they were asked for their advice on how to shape the script in the first place! In conversation with Debra Kaufman, they describe the role they play in the storytelling process itself, in a way that far transcends the cutting of scenes.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
Restoring Richard III: VistaVision to 4K

Restoring Richard III: VistaVision to 4K

When The Film Foundation decided to restore Richard III, the non-profit film preservation organization approached Grover Crisp, Sony Pictures Executive Vice President, Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering, Sony Pictures Entertainment. The job was to return the film as close as possible to its original version, which involved restoring over 100 shots. Cineric in New York dug up the missing trims and provided the 4K wet-gate scan, and Crisp brought in MTI Film for much of the restoration, including creating missing frames. Sony Pictures' DI and restoration facility Colorworks finished the job with a careful DI, and the film -- which has been released on BluRay by Criterion -- is expected to have a theatrical release through Janus Films.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
The Great Gatsby VFX: Iloura's Valley of the Ashes

The Great Gatsby VFX: Iloura's Valley of the Ashes

In director Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby, one of the more dramatic locations is the Valley of Ashes, a bleak, depressing rubbish dump that the characters pass through on their way between Manhattan and Long Island. Nearly everything there was created by Iloura, an Australian VFX company. Iloura Visual Effects Supervisor Julian Dimsey and Compositor Matt Omond speak with Creative COW about the work they did to create the Valley of Ashes.

Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
The Great Gatsby VFX: Animal Logic Sets the Scene in 3D

The Great Gatsby VFX: Animal Logic Sets the Scene in 3D

Award-winning, Sydney-based VFX and animation company, Animal Logic delivered 590 shots for the gilt, luxurious and captivating film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. 175 people worked on Gatsby over the course of a year and a half. VFX Producer Ingrid Johnston and VFX Supervisor Andy Brown talk to Creative COW about their work on The Great Gatsby.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Blackmagic Design
Arrested Development at Shapeshifter

Arrested Development at Shapeshifter

Shapeshifter in Los Angeles most recently color-corrected and added VFX to ten of the new 15 episodes of the cult TV show Arrested Development. The job came to the full-service post facility almost accidentally, when colorist Randy Coonfield advised the production on how to best round-trip between the company's Avids and its DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic Design. Since all 15 episodes were released at once, Randy had his hands full, often color-correcting two episodes at a time to make the final push, turning out an entire season in a matter of days. Here, Randy Coonfield talks to Creative COW about what it took to get this new on-demand season out and streaming.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Randy Coonfield
TV & Movie Appreciation
VFX Titans Remember Ray Harryhausen

VFX Titans Remember Ray Harryhausen

"When we grieve Ray Harryhausen's passing, we are at least in part grieving perhaps the last living link to the earliest days of movie visual effects," says Creative COW's Debra Kaufman. She spoke to many of today's VFX giants who were inspired by Ray, including Phil Tippett, Richard Edlund, Jeffrey A. Okun and ILM Animation Director Hal Hickel, who says, "Ray Harryhausen's impact on an entire generation (several actually) of filmmakers cannot be overstated, each of them trying again and again to reproduce the wonder they first felt as a child watching Jason fight those skeletons."

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
Iron Man 3, Marvel & The Future of the Superhero

Iron Man 3, Marvel & The Future of the Superhero

Victoria Alonso, Marvel Studios Executive Vice President of Visual Effects and Post Production, began her career in the early days of the digital visual effects industry. We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Victoria about the Iron Man movies, post production's evolution, remote dailies and coloring on set, 4K & HFR, and keeping the modern superhero movie fresh.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
MAYA
Iron Man 3: The Trixters Behind Tony Stark's Shiny New Armor

Iron Man 3: The Trixters Behind Tony Stark's Shiny New Armor

Seventy artists from Trixter worked an entire year to create a formidable 208 VFX shots for Marvel's Iron Man 3. Each new episode in the Iron Man saga details a slick new technology created by the ingenious Tony Stark, and the new installment does not disappoint! Combining the hard surface geometry of the Iron Man suit auto-assembly with the flexibility of the human body was one of the challenges that Trixter brought from previs to believable screen reality.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Alessandro Cioffi
TV & Movie Appreciation
Jurassic Park 3D: A New Dimension For A Modern Classic

Jurassic Park 3D: A New Dimension For A Modern Classic

If you liked Jurassic Park the first time around, you're going to love it in 3D. If there was ever a movie that cried out for a third dimension, it was this one: T-Rex towering over the teetering SUV? Raptors skittering in the kitchen? Jurassic Park's already edge-of-your-seat scenes get even scarier in stereoscopic 3D. Conversions from 2D to 3D have gotten a bad rap due to a small handful of movies that were not done skillfully. Stereo D- which also did the conversion work for Titanic -- handled Jurassic Park. President William Sherak and Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer Aaron Parry talked to Creative COW about their work on Spielberg's dinosaur blockbuster, and why 2D-to-3D conversions are booming.

Editorial, Feature
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
Sony Imageworks Takes Us On The Yellow Brick Road to OZ

Sony Imageworks Takes Us On The Yellow Brick Road to OZ

Sony Imageworks provided over 1,100 digital visual effects shots to Oz the Great and Powerful, a movie which explains how a small time magician became the great Wizard of Oz. Featured are two all-digital characters, the 18-inch China Girl and Finley, the wise-cracking monkey with wings, as well as a host of other digital creatures from river fairies to flying baboons. In addition, Imageworks provided environments from the Kansas Circus to Emerald City and effects work that include the magic of evil and good witches and Oz himself.

Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?

VFX Crossroads Pt. 2: Can The VFX Business Be Saved?

In VFX Crossroads, Part 1, we took a close look at how the seeds of the VFX industry’s dysfunctional business model were planted in its earliest days. Although outsourcing and tax incentives/subsidies are the culprits most often cited in today’s news, we saw that the financial picture for VFX houses is far more complex than that. Here in Part 2, we look at some of the solutions proposed by leading voices in the VFX industry, including a VFX facility trade associations, a union or guild, and ending subsidies. The question is, is it all too little too late?

Editorial, Feature
Debra Kaufman
Stereoscopic 3D
NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference M & E Roundup

NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference M & E Roundup

There was truly something for everyone at NVIDIA GTC, and a surprisingly rich amount of thoughtful presentations for the Media & Entertainment crowd. GTC provided many opportunities to learn the basics and, for the truly nerdy, many opportunities to dig deep. As a mere semi-geek, Debra Kaufman learned a lot and met a lot of interesting people. Read her roundup of new M&E technology thanks to super-fast GPU computing.

Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
VFX Crossroads: Causes & Effects Of An Industry Crisis

VFX Crossroads: Causes & Effects Of An Industry Crisis

The VFX industry is in a crisis. As Life of Pi won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, the venerable facility that created those effects - Rhythm & Hues - declared bankruptcy, and they're hardly the first to close their doors due to financial problems. Debra Kaufman pulls from her 25 years of experience covering the industry to take a close look at how the creators of some of cinema's indelible images are falling prey to dysfunctional business models. Their deep historical roots have also led to visual effects becoming one of the least-profitable areas of film and TV production. How did we get here?

Editorial, Feature
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
TouchEdit App Brings Pro Editing to the iPad

TouchEdit App Brings Pro Editing to the iPad

Do you miss the tactile aspect of editing film? Or are you a big fan of the iPad? Or would you just love a way to have a super-portable professional editing system? If you've answered "yes" to any of these three questions, you're a potential customer of editor Dan Lebental ACE's new app TouchEdit. TouchEdit is available in the iTunes store for $50.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
The Art of Foley: John Roesch Honored by MPSE

The Art of Foley: John Roesch Honored by MPSE

John Roesch is one of the most accomplished Foley artists in the motion picture industry, with contributions to more than 400 films in a three decade-spanning career. He is the recipient of two MPSE Golden Reel Awards (The Dark Knight, The Matrix) alongside more than a dozen nominations. He has worked on 16 films that have won Academy Awards for Best Sound or Best Sound Editing. John Roesch spoke to Creative COW about the art of Foley and his extensive experience in creating sound effects.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
John Roesch
Art of the Edit
Zombies Brought to Life For Warm Bodies

Zombies Brought to Life For Warm Bodies

VFX company LOOK Effects ramped up a studio in Vancouver and created a new pipeline for character animation, to produce 85 shots of the Boneys - the most decayed, menacing zombies - in Warm Bodies, the new zom-rom-com based on the book of the same name. In addition to character animation, the company created a CG fly-through of a wasted city, blending with live action plates at each end of the sequence.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Cinematography
KICKSTART THEFT: Filmed on Sony F65

KICKSTART THEFT: Filmed on Sony F65

Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC and director Frederic Goodich, ASC got together to push the new Sony F65 to its limits. The result is Kickstart Theft, a short film based on De Sica's classic The Bicycle Thieves, which was shot in downtown Los Angeles in a range of challenging lighting and shooting conditions.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
Bill Taylor, ASC Commended with the John A. Bonner Medal

Bill Taylor, ASC Commended with the John A. Bonner Medal

VFX pioneer Bill Taylor, ASC has been voted to receive the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which was presented at the 2013 Scientific and Technical Awards. Inspired by Ray Harryhausen and some of the greatest icons of effects history, Bill has achieved feats of his own. We had the opportunity to speak with him about his luminary career.

Feature, People / Interview
Bill Taylor, ASC
Stereoscopic 3D
Tim Squyres Edits Life of Pi

Tim Squyres Edits Life of Pi

Tim Squyres, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Life of Pi, got hooked on film when he took an introductory film course at Cornell University in upstate New York. Squyres talks to Creative COW about the challenges of editing Ang Lee's first digitally shot feature film, which was also a stereoscopic 3D release.

Feature, People / Interview
Tim Squyres
Art of the Edit
Unique VFX Challenges for Live One-take Shooting on Les Miz

Unique VFX Challenges for Live One-take Shooting on Les Miz

Les Misérables, based on Victor Hugo's novel of crime and redemption in 19th Century France, has been a huge hit in theatres. Though it's gained acclaim for director Tom Hooper's technique of one-take shots of actors singing the songs, digital visual effects have provided many key elements. Les Miz represents a unique combination of in-camera effects, 2D and 3D compositing, adding elements, removing elements -- and not a single green screen shot.

Editorial, Feature
Debra Kaufman
Cinematography
Skyfall: Dailies & DI from London to California

Skyfall: Dailies & DI from London to California

To ensure color consistency from dailies to DI for Skyfall, Company 3 London and EFILM collaborated to create an integrated pipeline, newly branded EC3. Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC was able to enjoy dailies graded by his long-time CO3 Santa Monica colorist working out of London, and the two facilities coordinated color science and calibration for an overall consistent look throughout the process.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
Cloud Atlas: The VFX

Cloud Atlas: The VFX

Cloud Atlas, a complex and lyrical film directed by Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, relies on visual effects and more than a dozen visual effects facilities collaborating closely to bring alive the past and future worlds depicted in its six intertwined stories. Method is one of the houses who helped create these amazing worlds, and Creative COW's Debra Kaufman spoke to them to learn more.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
Argo's Invisible Effects Create 1970s Tehran

Argo's Invisible Effects Create 1970s Tehran

Argo tells the recently declassified true story of six Americans who escaped the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran -- by pretending to be filmmakers! With Argo's filmmakers unable to shoot in Iran, audiences travel there through the "invisible effects" created by Method Los Angeles, whose teams provided compelling illusions that serve as the perfect backdrop for this tale of life and death sleight of hand.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Stereoscopic 3D
3DTV To Go: The Evolution of 3D and Multi-Screen Viewing

3DTV To Go: The Evolution of 3D and Multi-Screen Viewing

3D in movies is here to stay. While a bit behind schedule for home viewing, 3D's next horizon may be even smaller screens: glasses-free 3D has been available on phones for over a year, and is evolving for touchscreen tablets. Editor-in-chief and publisher for The Hollywood Reporter for 17 years, Bob Dowling is the co-producer of both the 3D Entertainment Summit and the Multi-Screen Summit, and offers a front row view.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Bob Dowling
Cinematography
Storm Surfers 3D Rides the 3D Wave

Storm Surfers 3D Rides the 3D Wave

The Australian movie Storm Surfers 3D takes viewers on an adventure to ride the biggest waves in the world, with two-time world champion surfer Ross Clarke-Jones and tow surfing pioneer Tom Carroll, accompanied by surf forecaster Ben Matson. Not only did the surfers defy death on these enormous waves, but the filmmakers - among them directors Chris Nelius, Justin McMillan and cinematographer Dave Maguire - risked life and gear to get the footage seen in this adrenaline-packed movie.

Editorial, Feature
Debra Kaufman
DaVinci Resolve
Grading Frankenweenie at Company 3

Grading Frankenweenie at Company 3

Colorist Rob Pizzey just finished the DI for Tim Burton's latest film, Frankenweenie, a 3D stop-motion animated tale of a boy and his deceased dog, brought back to life with the power of science. Creative COW spoke with Company 3 colorist Rob Pizzey in London about the tricks of grading a B&W movie that's also stop-motion and in 3D.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Lightwave
Creating A Ghost Train: A Visual Display for Preston Hall

Creating A Ghost Train: A Visual Display for Preston Hall

Pollen Studio creates a ghost train audio/visual display for prestigious Preston Hall Museum in Northern England, an eerie effect that smashes out of a bookshelf within a museum room. The 3D elements blend perfectly with the actors in period costume who portray passengers on the doomed train.

Feature
Tom Sefton
DaVinci Resolve
Taking a Bite out of Cookie Monster with Resolve 9

Taking a Bite out of Cookie Monster with Resolve 9

When directors Josh and Jason Diamond called Juan Salvo to color and finish “Share it Maybe,” the music video spoof of the pop hit “Call Me Maybe,” Juan knew he had the perfect tool for the job. As part of the private beta for Blackmagic Design’s Resolve 9, he was able to turn the Cookie Monster into the perfect shade of blue and tackle other challenges, with the lightning speed turnaround that the viral video required.

Feature
Juan Salvo
Cinematography
Where Digital Meets Stop-Motion in ParaNorman

Where Digital Meets Stop-Motion in ParaNorman

The stereo 3D stop-motion animated feature ParaNorman from Laika puts the emphasis on handcrafted puppets and details. But digital plays an important, behind-the-scenes role, not just in painting out rigs but in creating ghosts, dramatic, witch-filled skies, crowds and set extensions. Laika's visual effects supervisor Brian Van't Hul, compositing supervisor Steve Emerson and CG/look dev supervisor Andrew Nawrot talk about the creation and integration of the digital with the real in ParaNorman. (Potential minor spoilers in the article)

Editorial
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
The VFX Files: Nancy St. John of Prime Focus Vancouver

The VFX Files: Nancy St. John of Prime Focus Vancouver

A pioneer in digital visual effects, Nancy St. John most recently worked on Men in Black 3, as Prime Focus' Executive Producer. Her career has spanned the beginnings of digital visual effects at Digital Productions and Robert Abel & Associates in Hollywood to Vancouver or "Hollywood North." She shares her experiences with Creative COW.

People / Interview
Nancy St. John
Art of the Edit
Editor Alan Edward Bell, A.C.E. on The Amazing Spider-Man

Editor Alan Edward Bell, A.C.E. on The Amazing Spider-Man

Fresh from cutting "Water for Elephants," Alan Edward Bell takes on the task of coordinating editing for "The Amazing Spider-Man." While focusing on building a unique telling of the story in a highly VFX-present setting, Alan follows the direction of Marc Webb to give movie-goers a more character-driven performance, updated interpretation of the love interest, and a subtle and comfortable 3D experience.

Feature
Alan Edward Bell
Film History & Appreciation
Aaron Sims: Previs and Visual FX Design

Aaron Sims: Previs and Visual FX Design

Aaron Sims talked to Creative COW about his work on the much-lauded TV series "Falling Skies," as well as summer VFX hits "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." Sims is also working on a feature-length version of his short "Archetype."

Feature
Aaron Sims
TV & Movie Appreciation
Restoring Jaws

Restoring Jaws

Universal Pictures is celebrating its 100 years of filmmaking with a list of 100 of its most notable films, thirteen of which will be restored. Jaws is one of those films, and in this article, we take you back into the water to find out just how safe it is to scan an original negative and bring Jaws back to life.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Film History & Appreciation
VFX Supervisor Jerome Chen on The Amazing Spider-Man

VFX Supervisor Jerome Chen on The Amazing Spider-Man

Jerome Chen, Academy Award-nominated senior visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, talks about choreography and creation of the VFX on The Amazing Spider-Man.

Feature
Jerome Chen
Film History & Appreciation
Method Studios: VFX for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Method Studios: VFX for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Method Studios was approached by Fox's visual effects team to work on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and were offered some very tasty stuff to solve - a train sequence with burning bridges, full CG fire, all in stereo. As CG artists, this is the kind of meaty work you really want to go after. Randy Goux shared his experiences on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with Creative COW.

Feature
Randy Goux
Art of the Edit
Luma Pictures' Prometheus Holograph

Luma Pictures' Prometheus Holograph

Holograms are de rigeur in a sci-fi movie, but in Prometheus, Charlie Holloway steps through one to hand a rose to Elizabeth Shaw, Luma Pictures handled this unique fluid effect as well as placing computer graphics in Shaw's handheld computer.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
DaVinci Resolve
Company 3's DI artist Stephen Nakamura on Prometheus

Company 3's DI artist Stephen Nakamura on Prometheus

Stephen Nakamura, one of a handful of artists who helped to pioneer DI color grading, shares his experience on creating the look for Prometheus as envisioned by director Ridley Scott.

Feature
Stephen Nakamura
MAYA
VFX Files: Khaos Digital Helps Bones Tell Its Stories

VFX Files: Khaos Digital Helps Bones Tell Its Stories

A key element in the hit TV show Bones is the images on The Angelatron, an 8-foot screen that shows detailed images proving how the victim died. Khaos Digital's David Watkinson creates all those images for Bones, and specializes in creating content for screens that play back in real-time during production. Creative COW looks at how it's done.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
Luma Pictures Takes On The Avengers

Luma Pictures Takes On The Avengers

Luma Pictures took on another Marvel superhero production - The Avengers. Luma completed nearly 200 shots, focusing on creating the interior of the Helicarrier by digitally extending and enhancing a practical set. The company also reprised its role in creating Thor's supernatural armor.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Cinematography
VFX Soup: Ken Ralston, Jay Redd, VFX for Men in Black 3

VFX Soup: Ken Ralston, Jay Redd, VFX for Men in Black 3

Just in time for the theater release of Men in Black 3, Creative COW had the opportunity to speak with Visual Effects Supervisors, Jay Redd, and five-time Academy Award winner and vfx pioneer Ken Ralston about their adventures with aliens and the Men in Black.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Adobe After Effects
Cinesite Creates Effects for Disney's JOHN CARTER

Cinesite Creates Effects for Disney's JOHN CARTER

Cinesite Visual Effects Supervisor Sue Rowe approached the mammoth job of creating 831 visual effects for John Carter -- which marks the live-action debut of noted animation director Andrew Stanton -- with a lot of experience under her belt.

Feature
Sue Rowe
MAYA
VFX Soup: Tintin VFX Supe Joe Letteri Talks 3D and Mocap

VFX Soup: Tintin VFX Supe Joe Letteri Talks 3D and Mocap

Four-time VFX Oscar-winner Joe Letteri describes the advanced technology behind Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin, discussing his own adventures with virtual cameras, motion capture, 3D, and three years of pre-production with the team at Weta Digital.

Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
TV & Movie Appreciation
Behind the Lens: Captain America: The First Avenger

Behind the Lens: Captain America: The First Avenger

Join Debra Kaufman as she goes behind the lens in the latest installment of her film vfx series, as Captain America: The First Avenger is brought from the realm of comic book imagination and 2D art, to the 3D world with stunning visual effects. Get the inside story of how thirteen VFX houses contributed to this new Marvel super-hero franchise as they share their stories with Debra Kaufman.

Feature
Debra Kaufman
Cinematography
VFX Soup: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

VFX Soup: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

If you've been captivated by the dashing Jack Sparrow ripping through the streets of 18th Century London on a flaming coal cart, you have Cinesite London to thank for that rollicking and truly convincing ride, as they nail a 200-shot blue-screen carriage chase. Debra Kaufman goes "Behind the Lens" and interviews Cinesite Visual Effects Supervisor Simon Stanley-Clamp for the details about how Cinesite rose to the challenge.

Feature, People / Interview
Debra Kaufman
Art of the Edit
VFX Soup: Luma Pictures Builds The Destroyer and Thor's VFX

VFX Soup: Luma Pictures Builds The Destroyer and Thor's VFX

Marvel Entertainment's epic adventure Thor has dominated the box office in the last few weeks, with a worldwide gross of $357.6 million. In this cinematic version of the super hero tale, the powerful but arrogant mighty Thor is exiled from the mystical realm of Asgard to live on earth, in punishment for his reckless actions that have reignited an ancient war. Forced to live among humans, Thor's powers are tested when The Destroyer, a monstrous suit of living armor, is sent to earth. In the process, Thor learns how to be a true hero. This fantastical action-adventure was helmed by renowned British actor/director Kenneth Branagh and stars Australian actor Chris Hemsworth as Thor, the ancient Norse god; Tom Hiddleston as Loki, his chaotic brother; Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Thor's love interest and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the father of Thor and Loki. In this article in the Creative COW Library, Luma Pictures takes us inside the building of The Destroyer and the Bifrost arrival to earth, the mystical storm that delivers the gods to the other worlds. Let Creative COW's Debra Kaufman take you to the realms of mythology and VFX possibility.

Feature
Debra Kaufman




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