Monster Legacy, a blog "trying to delve into the secrets of the making of Movie Monsters," presents Subterranean Terror, an in depth look at the creature effects of the greatest Precambrian sandworm horror-comedy franchise of all time. [more inside]
A self-taught special effects guru, A.S. Hamilton has crafted [simulated injuries] with chilling perfection. But his greatest big-screen challenge was bringing one of human history’s most gruesome chapters back to life.CONTENT WARNING: descriptions of violence, graphic movie set photos and stills [more inside]
True Lies is a 1994 action comedy film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Arnold. The film was a huge hit, and is noteworthy in that it featured visual special effects considered impossible only a few years prior. It's been 20 years since it was released. Time for a revisit, then. [SPOILERS if you haven't seen this movie.] [more inside]
220 images from Alien including behind the scenes photos, concept art and early effects shots.
Den of Geek provides a brief survey of rotating sets in film as far back as Royal Wedding in 1951 all the way up to Inception in 2010. In the world of music video, Metallica did their own interesting... ahem, spin on it for "The Memory Remains". The television show "Glee" paid tribute to Royal Wedding with their own rotating room song and dance number. Finally, the Den of Geek article states that such effects require, "intense planning, expensive materials and an army of builders". Nonsense.
Huge collection of (and commentary on) matte art from classic films that has been rescanned for HD releases. Much more on the process of creating and filming this type of setup at last month's post. (previously)
Clips from each of the visual effects winners at the Oscars since 1979. Worth comparing to this great feature from Empire where 15 leading special effects artists were each asked to pick a favorite effect (also with clips). It is probably not worth comparing to the 6 best special effects from Turkish knock-offs of American films.
Of course matte art has for a long time played a major part in Hollywood's recreation of the old west, with effects shots ranging from simple top ups of mood enhancing skies right through to entire recreations of frontier settings to often wonderful effect. Todays blog will take a look at some of those marvellous visions - the product of the many often uncredited artists who worked tirelessly in the various studio matte departments.
Mattes Ride The Range: The art of the matte shot in Westerns
Mattes Ride The Range: The art of the matte shot in Westerns
In the 1933 movie King Kong, the titular hero kills a group of sailors by throwing them off a log. But some were supposed to have survived the fall, only to meet a gruesome end at the bottom of the ravine. When King Kong was edited, this terrifying scene was lost. So director Peter Jackson decided to re-create it! The Lost Spider Pit Sequence [more inside]
Baz has graciously agreed to let us release this 'before and afters' reel to show our peer group the VFX work completed on his film The Great Gatsby
Matte Shot - A Tribute to Golden Era Special FX ...the inventiveness and ingenuity of the craft of the matte painter during Hollywood's Golden Era. Some of the shots will amaze in their grandeur and epic quality while others will surprise in their 'invisibility' to even the sophisticated viewer. I hope this collection will serve as an appreciation of the artform and both casual visitors and those with a specialist interest may benefit, enjoy and be amazed at skills largely unknown today.
Feeding Hannibal. The blog of food stylist Janice Poon covers interesting recipes such as Lambs' Tongues en Papillote and Tomato Brain Barquettes as well some of the less savory aspects of the TV show Hannibal, such as creating fake mold and mock human loin.
Studio Ghibli presents Giant God Warrior Appears In Tokyo, a short tokusatsu film. (In Japanese, no subtitles.)
Steve Howarth has made a lot of practical special effects miniatures, including work on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, Moon, Crystal Maze and many more projects. Perhaps the most interesting is his work on Red Dwarf. [more inside]
Without visual effects the average blockbuster movie would look like this. However as Hollywood comes under financial pressure they are putting the squeeze on the VFX industry that they rely on, who are in turn passing the pressure onto workers. Now VFX workers are organizing a protest in time for the Oscars, which will be celebrating visual effects as the companies responsible for them close down. [more inside]
In 1959 Fred Astaire hired renowned makeup artist John Chambers to work on his television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. The assignment? Turn Fred Astaire into Alfred E. Neuman. The results were predictably strange. [more inside]
In 1889, the Urania Astronomical Society of Berlin put together an illusion of a trip to the moon and a solar eclipse, created with painted scenery, transparent screens, and a variety models, created live before an audience. Three years later, the same show was presented at Andrew Carnegie's Music Hall, as covered in Scientific American, a decade before Le Voyage dans la Lune, the film by Georges Méliès (previously). The stage show was documented in 1897, in Magic; stage illusions and scientific diversions, including trick photography (Archive.org, direct link to Trip to the Moon; also available on Google Books). [via io9, who have a summary of the special effects]
Special effects legend Carlo Rambaldi, most famous as the creator of E.T. and the titular creature in Alien, has died at the age of 86. Here is a montage of his work.
Homebuilding a 474mm tall model of "Robocain" from 1990's Robocop 2, complete with a working head. Clips of Robocain and the other Robocop prototypes from the movie. All photos from the project. Bonus music link: Front Line Assembly performing the Robocop 2 sampling Mindphaser live.
Revisiting Cinefex - a nostalgia wormhole into the golden age of model work and practical effects and the odd piece of early CG via backissues of the quarterly magazine of motion picture visual effects. The latest issues covered touches on Young Sherlock Holmes's Stained glass knight - mainstream cinema’s first fully-rendered CG character created by Industrial Light & Magic's Pixar group.
In 2273, after having been thought lost in a black hole, Voyager 6 returned to Federation space as V'Ger, the massive and menacing spaceship at the heart of Star Trek: The Motion Picture... Designing the Living Machine - concept art for V'Ger, Redesigning the Walk to V’Ger, The Lighting and Photography of Star Trek's "V'ger", working on the interior of V'ger, V'ger External View, V'Ger - Spock Mindmeld Model Piece (scroll way down) (may contain Darth Vader and Miss Piggy), animating the "V'ger Probe", V'ger rear view.
A 50 foot wide miniature of Hogwarts used in all of the Harry Potter films will be going on display in London this month. The miniature was designed and built by production designer Stuart Craig.
"I said before the film has historical importance (and it does), but it's relevance was more recognized in 1978 than the present day. The YouTube generation will be unable to comprehend what purpose the film served thirty years ago, and thus it's difficult to ignore how hopelessly dated Faces Of Death really is." It's relevance may have faded, but the intrigue remains. Deadspin recently interviewed the writer and producer of four compilations of death and gore, John Alan Schwartz. And of course, they discuss the fake gore in the monkey scene (interview clip with special make-up effects creators Allan Apone and Douglas White, with the memorable scene). And what is Schwarts up to today? He and his wife post videos of their movie reviews on YouTube (Tumblr, YouTube profile page, their website).
Archetype is a seven minute sci-fi short by Aaron Sims, which despite being a no-budget project, features amazingly high quality special effects. [more inside]
Apocalypse Later, Surf Now - A short, beautiful video of people enjoying themselves as the world ends.
The Ray Harryhausen Creature List A video compilation of all Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion animated creatures.
"One day a little boy came up, he must have been about four and he saw me taking off my (prosthetic) legs and he started with the 'why' questions, you know, 'why haven't you got any legs', etc. And I said 'have you heard of The Little Mermaid?' and he said 'yes' and I said 'I'm a mermaid' and he got this look on his face and he said 'wow that's cool' and ran off to tell his dad.Weta Digital are the special effects team behind the costumes, weapons and creatures of the Lord of the Rings movies, Avatar and even a sonic screwdriver prop that could be making an appearance on the next season of Doctor Who. In 2009, they created a fully functional mermaid tail pro bono for Nadya Vessey, an Auckland woman who is a double leg amputee. Video News Report: 1, 2.
I'll have to turn up to that beach again sometime with my tail - just in case he's there."
A look behind the surprising amount of CGI used during the production of Black Swan. [slyt] [nsfw] [spoilers]
Let Yourself Feel and Nokta and Reincarnation: just a few samples from hundreds you'll find on the vfxstuff channel at Vimeo.
He invented or popularized a startling array of the fundamental elements of film: the dissolve, the fade-in and fade-out, slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, double exposures and multiple exposures, miniatures, the in-camera matte, time-lapse photography, color film (albeit hand-painted), artificial film lighting, production sketches and storyboards, and the whole idea of narrative film.
By 1897, in a studio of his own design and construction – the first complete movie studio – his hand forged virtually everything on his screen. Norman McLaren writes, "He was not only his own producer, ideas man, script writer, but he was his own set-builder, scene painter, choreographer, deviser of mechanical contrivances, special effects man, costume designer, model maker, actor, multiple actor, editor and distributor." Also, his own cinematographer, and the inventor of cameras to suit his special conceptions. Not even auteur directors such as Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, and Stanley Kubrick would personally author so many aspects of their films."Inside: 57 films by Georges Méliès, the Grandfather of Visual Effects. [more inside]
Mike Jittlov worked in special effects back before computers took over. His legendary film short, The Wizard Of Speed And Time, was actually a self-created remake of an earlier short. [more inside]
Brad Pitt is no spring chicken, but it still took some work to put an 85-year-old version of his face on a child's body in his newest movie. The first step: a new markerless, wireless, uncanny-valley-clearing motion capture process, termed "volumetric cinematography" by the effects studio. [more inside]
Mac Vs. PC. Inspired by Transformers, this short visual effects piece shows us what would happen if our home computers could turn into robots and started beating each other up.
Radiohead's promo for their single House of Cards was "shot" using light and laser-based scanning systems rather than cameras, with data being generated in real-time. Includes video and making of, and you can even play around with a 3D visualization of Thom Yorke's head.
Legendary special effects artist Stan Winston has passed away from cancer at the age of 62. From Mr. Roboto to the Terminator to Iron Man, he leaves an almost unparalleled body of work.
Blake's Back! British science fiction classic Blakes 7 is getting the Battlestar Galactica treatment. [more inside]
drawnline: The commercial and personal work of Andrew Bell.
Sneaky Pete Kleinow, [Wikipedia | Allmusic] passed away Saturday, January 6 at the age of 72. In addition to being an incredible pedal steel guitar player, most notably with the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, he was also an accomplished visual effects artist who worked on films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator I & II, and Army of Darkness.
From extra sheep and mountains in Brokeback Mountain, to flipping around shops and removing a leg in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Buzz Image provides an extensive portfolio of their CG and FX work. And plenty of beavers.
CGchannel.com has a brief but fairly informative feature on the two CG effect "set pieces" in the recent movie S.W.A.T. I thought the movie was a quite respectable summer spectacle - the helicopter crash in particular was quite well-done - and it's usually fun and instructive to see how these things are done.
Seeing The Matrix yesterday (and just before it, the preview for the third Terminator movie) reminded me of this old David Foster Wallace essay"F/X Porn", in which he points out how Hollywood blockbusters have become the equivalent of your average "2 for $10.99!!" XXX rentals. [Google cached version here.]
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