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special effects

Rogue One CG actors photo
Rogue One CG actors

Nightline shows how ILM created CG actors for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


SPOILERS on some cameo appearances
Jan 06
// Hubert Vigilla
If you've seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, you know that there are some unexpected appearances by well-known (and lesser known) characters from the original Star Wars. Needless to say, SPOILERS to follow. Some of my favorit...
Batman v Superman VFX photo
Batman v Superman VFX

Watch a CGI-heavy special effects reel of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice


Everything is computer generated
Dec 28
// Hubert Vigilla
While I wasn't a fan of Zack Snyder's cacophonous Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I do admire the VFX work put into the film. The craft of the visual effects artists is evident throughout, and this reel from Scanline VFX shows just how much CGI went into making the movie. Check out the reel below.
Rogue One creatures photo
Rogue One creatures

Featurette showcases some practical effects creatures from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


It's a trap! And a mask! And a trap!
Dec 06
// Hubert Vigilla
While I've been anticipating Rogue One: A Star Wars Story all year, I'm sort of glad that the marketing blitz for the film has been mostly concentrated into this last few weeks. Maybe I've just been avoiding all of the market...
Star Wars SFX photo
Star Wars SFX

Watch ILM work their special effects magic on Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Tighten up the graphics on scene 3
Sep 07
// Hubert Vigilla
While producer Kathleen Kennedy has stressed the importance of practical effects and location shooting in this new batch of Star Wars films, CG still has a major role to play in bringing these movies to life. SFX innovators I...

Warcraft VFX photo
Warcraft VFX

Behind-the-scenes Warcraft footage shows ILM making lifelike orcs


Should've cast real orcs
May 18
// Hubert Vigilla
Here at Flixist, we've been both cautiously optimistic and also somewhat skeptical about the Warcraft movie. We like director Duncan Jones a whole lot, but we're still left a little cold about the movie given the various ...

Interview: Makeup/Special Effects Designer Roger Murray (Ash vs. Evil Dead)

Oct 26 // Hubert Vigilla
Having worked on the Evil Dead remake, how does Ash vs Evil Dead compare in terms of the blood and gore and extent of the makeup effect? Oh man. It's a lot more intense, basically. I mean, there's a huge amount of special effects, blood, gore, dismemberment, beheadings. I think it's just a lot more fun of a ride. It's just a lot faster paced and crazy fun, really. When did the series come up after working on the film? Pretty quickly after? No, it wasn't. It sort of matured over quite a bit of time before we actually talked about that maybe we should do a series. It took a bit to build it, and I got pulled in about two months before they started pre-production. So there was quite a bit of a time gap between them. Moving to cable—to Starz—were there any limitations at all on what you could do as far as effect goes? We haven't had any limitations yet! They haven't set any limitations. I think most of it gets set up through the writing, and the writers have been fantastic about building certain effects as we go along. And also as the series evolves, they get an idea of what we're capable of and the amount of time [required]. That's been really great. So no, they haven't set any limitations yet, and I don't think they will! [laughs] Can you tell us about one of your favorite effects that you got to work on? Hmmm... It's a tricky one without giving too much away. I think just generally we've done a lot of character makeups, right? And those have all been really fun. Pretty much every deadite is its own character makeup. So we've got a tone for the whole show, but we've personalized every one. It's been quite good. And I think just generally making rigs. Going back to the old school rigs with dummy rigs, dismemberments, beheadings. We've made a few puppets! I can't say what's my favorite. It's like we had a lot of blood on our hands, let's just say that. How did the cast react to being constantly covered in blood? Well, they sort of got used to it. Though Bruce gets a lot of the blood, you know. The whole cast were amazing, really amazing, and really stepped up to it. Because, you know, it's a fast turnaround TV show, so it's on. I mean, we do a lot of effects in our turnaround episodically, so there was no downtime from blood. And they just got used to it. It was really good, yeah. Is there enough of a talent pool in New Zealand now that you can actually pull off this kind of show? There's been a lot of new productions down there. That's a really good question. Look, there's a huge gravitas with Evil Dead. I was working with two really good makeup artists—Jane O'Kane and Denise Coomb—down there who both share a credit in prosthetic design, because we basically allocated some of the tonal stuff to the on-set makeup artists, the designers. And that was really great. We've had a really good pool of effects makeup artists through the whole Lord of the Rings, and New Zealand ended up getting people from America, we drew people from Australia. Just the tone and the want for people to work on the show was enough to draw people to New Zealand. We're really lucky. We had some great technicians come down, great makeup artists, great technicians who worked a lot in the States. They love being in New Zealand. It's quite different down there, you know? So no, we were really lucky. It is one of those things where we're a small country so when a lot of different projects get going, it does get quite tight, but I think Evil Dead will always draw people in. The coolness factor of it? Yeah, I think it's the coolness factor, but I think it's also that we run our workshop so that makeup artists—the special effects makeup artists are usually technicians too—they'll get the ability to potentially sculpt some of the designs and do the technical side and do the makeups; so it's quite a holistic sort of way we run it. So for them they feel a little bit more connected to the show, and they really enjoy it. It's been great fun. And, you know, they come out of the workshop, get some blood on their hands, come back, wash their hands, go back out. It's been really good. When you read a gory set piece in the script, are you allowed to ratchet it up and make suggestions, or do you usually stick to what's there? Oh man! It's always getting ratcheted up, you know what I mean? The thing is trying to contain that so it actually works and is scary and not too over the top, you know what I mean? So it depends on the pace of the gag that we're doing. Some of the gags we'll do we'll go completely berzerk, mostly when Bruce is involved. [laughs] So in [Sam Raimi's] episode, it was like, "Let's really ratchet it up!" because he really loves seeing Bruce covered in blood. "But let's just ratchet it right up— Let's go craaaazy!" So we'd barge on set with kegs of blood and blood pumps, and we're pumping. That's really fun, but there are times when we want to build the pace of the show; we want it to be scary, a lot more potentially like the remake where there's a bit more of a sense of impending doom. We'll sort of tone it down a little bit. So there's a nice variation, yeah, yeah. It's worked really well, it's really fun. And... [laughs] You guys are gonna love it! It's crazy. It's a crazy half hour. It's one of those shows that I, personally, would love to go and see. Like when I get home from work, I just want to sit down and watch it. It's really fun. Could you talk a little bit about what's the aesthetic, the look, the tone of the— The tone, yeah. The tone. That's another great question. Of course, that's one of the things because the tone changes in the movies from the first Evil Dead to the second one to Army of Darkness. There's sort of an overriding feeling to it, but the actual makeup and the look of the makeup changes quite a bit. So what we've done is we've kind of gone back to look mostly at Evil Dead 2 and get the tone from there, and sort of lifted a little bit for the TV show. We always wanted to make Ash vs Evil Dead our own sort of thing. We didn't want to copy [previous movies] outright because I think [the movies] had their time and place then. So we're drawing on that, we're drawing on the palette and different hues of what they've used initially. And I love [Evil Dead 2]. I love that movie, it's great. So to be able to go over and deconstruct it, talk with Sam about where they sort of started and what the background was; just sort of change it and work with him and get a feeling of what the deadites were going to look like. It's just pushed a little bit, pushed a little bit toward the modern. How do you do Evil Dead 2-esque makeup effects when [back then] they were doing things with peanut butter? Now you've got fantastic technology and amazing materials. How do you dial it back? Well, that's the thing. We didn't want to dial it right back to then. We actually wanted to enhance it for the show. We've actually taken all the appliances we make—they're silicone appliances... There's more of a naturalism. That's probably the best way I can describe it. We didn't want it to look too theatrical, we wanted you to actually feel like the characters had gone through a transformation. There's definitely a harkening back to Evil Dead movies, but I think it's its own thing too. It's just a natural progression of makeup effects, generally. We're taking our own riff on it. How does it feel working in the industry now with the resurgence of practical effects? You're seeing a lot of films and TV shows going back to practical and going away from digital. I'm extremely happy about it. [laughs] My company, Main Reactor, is extremely happy about it. It really is a bit of a dream come true because, look, there was a point when we all thought that lots more things would be digital. We still work with a great visual effects company in New Zealand, Pacific Renaissance Pictures effects (PRPVFX). Our approach is we're not going to discard our visual effects, we're going to work together, and we're going to make effects that you don't know where the practical-effects and visual-effects sides begin and end. Marrying both of those together is hugely effective. Most of it's practical, but there's some tweaks with visual effects, things you can do easily now like wire removal and all those sort of things, enhancement of blood. It helps storytellers tell their story. We're making Evil Dead as a TV series in 2015. It's insane. I couldn't be happier. The producers are up for as many practical effects as possible, and it's just going to be a nice combination of tweaks so you're not sure how we did it. It's the veneer, you know? The polish on the— Yeah! Yeah, yeah yeah. And you'll see it. Most of the effects are practical. [laughs] Yeah, but I don't want to dismiss the fact that working with visual effects artist and working in that medium is a really fantastic way to go too. It's a great marriage. You probably run into this a lot in recent years where you'll be sitting at a production meeting and the visual effects guys say "We'll take that" or "We'll do that," and you're sort of left with the scraps. So now this seems like this is the opposite. Well, I think there's a mentality initially that's starting to change where visual effects supervisors and stuff would try to pick up lots of effects in pre-production meetings. But what we've found was that— [Let's take the show] Spartacus. I think Spartacus is a great example because when you start birthing a show, everyone starts trying to figure out what jigsaw piece they are and what's going to be best for the show. I definitely know that there's a big gravitas on Spartacus with the visual effects to actually do stuff as practically as possible because the turnaround on television is really fast. You know, the post-production side is really fast because it's matching where you are in the shooting schedule. They don't seem to be putting their hands up as much now saying "I'll take that." They're being a lot more clever about it. I think for [visual effects artists], it's great. If they can get something in-camera and we've got a plan from the start, we can come up with a great product. We're doing Evil Dead, so there's a lo-fi aspect to some things. If you're got dummies being chopped up with chainsaws, and you've got dismembered arms, or we've got some really lovely silicone bodies, you know, all that stuff. We don't have to hide that with visual effects, and the visual effects people don't have to clean it up. It just is what it is, and you're carried by the story and carried by the characters.
Interview: Roger Murray photo
On the look/feel of this new Evil Dead
Roger Murray's been working in props, makeup effects, and practical special effects for more than two decades. His credits include The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 30 Days of Night, the 2013 Evil Dead remake, and Crouch...

Star Wars Changes photo
Star Wars Changes

See all the changes made to the original Star Wars Trilogy


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Jul 27
// Hubert Vigilla
The original Star Wars Trilogy has been through a lot of changes over the years, starting in 1997 with the release of the Special Editions. The Special Editions allowed George Lucas to tweak here and there and hype up the the...
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Noah has the most complicated rendering in ILM history


So much digital animal hair
Oct 09
// Matthew Razak
I don't think anyone will be surprised to find out that Darren Aronofsky's Noah will be quite heavy on the impressive visuals, but earning the tag of the most complicated rendering Industrial Light and Magic Has ever done mea...
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Video: behind the special effects in Fast & Furious 6


Spoilers!
Jun 04
// Liz Rugg
Part of what has made the Fast & Furious franchise thrive under Justin Lin's direction is his insistence on filming as much real action in-camera as possible. In other words, (spoilers, I suppose) for the final chase sce...
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YouTube's newest feature: Slow motion


Slow ride, take it easy!
May 29
// Logan Otremba
Did you ever wish that you owned a high-speed camera just to post videos of things in slow-motion on YouTube? Well not everyone owns a high-speed camera just for this specific purpose, but Google has a new tool for you.
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Nymphomaniac to have actors's faces on porn star bodies


Lars von Trier will get freaky with computers and body doubles
May 21
// Hubert Vigilla
Even though many elements of Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac have been closely guarded, a few details have slipped out from producer Louise Vesth. According to Vesth, there will be graphic sex scenes featuring actors Charlotte ...

RIP Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)

May 07 // Hubert Vigilla
Raymond Frederick Harryhausen Born: Los Angeles 29th June 1920 Died: London 7th May 2013. The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA. Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was enormous, with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK’s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations. Harryhausen’s fascination with animated models began when he first saw Willis O’Brien’s creations in KING KONG with his boyhood friend, the author Ray Bradbury in 1933, and he made his first foray into filmmaking in 1935 with home-movies that featured his youthful attempts at model animation. Over the period of the next 46 years, he made some of the genres best known movies – MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949), IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955), 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1961), ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), THER VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969), three films based on the adventures of SINBAD and CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981). He is perhaps best remembered for his extraordinary animation of seven skeletons in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) which took him three months to film. Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so. Today The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a charitable Trust set up by Ray on the 10th April 1986, is devoted to the protection of Ray’s name and body of work as well as archiving, preserving and restoring Ray’s extensive Collection. Tributes have been heaped upon Harryhausen for his work by his peers in recent years. “Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.” “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no STAR WARS” George Lucas. “THE LORD OF THE RINGS is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie’. Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least” Peter Jackson “In my mind he will always be the king of stop-motion animation” Nick Park "His legacy of course is in good hands because it’s carried in the DNA of so many film fans." Randy Cook "You know I’m always saying to the guys that I work with now on computer graphics “do it like Ray Harryhausen” Phil Tippett “What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” Terry Gilliam. "His patience, his endurance have inspired so many of us." Peter Jackson "Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever." Steven Spielberg "I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are." James Cameron
RIP Ray Harryhausen photo
A fond farewell to one of the legends of movie magic
Ray Harryhausen, the legendary special effects pioneer, stop-motion animator, and creature creator, died today at the age of 92. Harryhausen's work has influenced generations of filmmakers and special effects artists, and hol...

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Featurettes on sound and visual effects in The Hobbit


Dec 18
// Hubert Vigilla
While I had issues with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for its flabby storytelling, the film has set the box office on fire and I did at least appreciate lots of choices in production design. These two feat...
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Gustav Hoegen's animatronic FX show reel is awesome


Oh, and robots will one day enslave the human race
Nov 15
// Thor Latham
File this under your cross-index for both awesome and creepy. Gustav Hoegen is the animatronic artist responsible for some pretty stunning creations from films such as Prometheus, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The ...
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New MIB3 shots show off aliens, cleavage, cake


Apr 10
// Jason Savior
Following images released last month, more production stills of Rick Baker's impressive makeup work have come from the Men in Black 3 set. Baker, pictured in the header playing the result of the inevitable cross-breeding...
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Watch a cool featurette on the flying scenes in Chronicle


Apr 04
// Alex Katz
Dre and I loved Chronicle. I'd say it ranks in my top ten best superhero movies of all time, truth be told. The flying sequences are among some of the most breathtaking and exhilarating in the film, filling you with a s...
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Rick Baker's MIB3 aliens are a B-movie lover's delight


Mar 26
// Alex Katz
I'm definitely having trouble getting excited for Men in Black 3, especially after a series of lackluster trailers, but one thing I can always count on is the work of makeup artist Rick Baker, shown in the gallery with a numb...
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Tom Savini latest irrelevant actor to score Django role


Oct 14
// Andres Bolivar
Another day, another Django Unchained casting announcement. With Kurt Russell replacing Kevin Costner and the more recent addition of Don Johnson as a slave pimp, the latest irrelevant name to come out of Django Unchained has...

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