Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Voice Of The Crew - Since 2002

Los Angeles, California

VES Wrap


The three-day visual effects festival
hosted in June by the Visual
Effects Society (VES), now six
years running, featured presentations
by visual effects supervisors
and their teams demonstrating
how digital media enhances the
storytelling process. This year’s
event was held in San Rafael, in
the effects-savvy Bay Area. The
audience demographics were as
interesting as the presentations:
a small group of IT aficionados
from Mexico City who show up
every year, an intrepid Icelandic
digital media instructor beginning
her summer break, and
totally psyched student groups
from the Midwest and the East
Bay—film lovers all.
Jamie Hyneman and Adam
Savage, hosts of Discovery
Channel’s Mythbusters, debunked
Hollywood myths: firing a gun at
a car engine will cause an explosion
and fire. Not! Another presentation,
by Electronic Arts
and Brain Zoo Studios, provided
examples of CGI in games.
Anecdotes abounded. “There
will be no flocks of birds,” stated
Chas Jarrett, VE supervisor for
Troy, recounting his response to
the film’s producers—not as an
exercise in petulance but a practicality
to cut down his department’s
workload of over 750 visual effects
shots for the film. Motion Picture
Co. in London completed all digital
work, inspired by crowd and battle
scene work in The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring.
“Pixies,” analogous to sprite
instance elements, were created
to save on polygon count issues
and render time. Motion capture
of a dozen or so stuntmen in costume provided a workable
handful of fighting actions for
thousands in the digital armies.
Similarly, live-action flame walls
were used as animated texture
maps, finessed with CG embers
and smoke particle filters to create
a subtle, continuous burning
of the vanquished city of Troy.
In contrast, The Day After
Tomorrow’s VE supervisor Karen
Goulekas conscripted the efforts
of a dozen VE houses including
Tweak Films (tidal wave and
fluid dynamics), Orphanage
(super storm cell and freeze
effect), Hydraulx (the ice shelf,
icebergs and crevasse breakaway),
and ILM (wolf creation
and related sequences). Still hard
to believe: the opening sequence
of the movie simulating the aerial
shot of a low-flying plane over
the Arctic Sea, complete with ice
floes, larger icebergs and tundra
shelf, was the total CGI magic of

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