Category Archives: VFX

Artifact helps goat breathe fire for Georgia Keno spots

Atlanta-based Artifact Design completed VFX and design work on The Fire King, the latest 30-second spot for Georgia Lottery Keno! via BBDO Atlanta. Playing on the popularity of medieval fantasy (we’re looking at you, Game of Thrones), this humorous spot features Kevin “the fire-breathing” Goat reprising his heroics from earlier campaigns.

The Fire King story follows Kevin’s quest for the throne in the land of 12 realms. Battles and cooking of meat ensue before he and his human sidekick, James, oust the sitting King Aragor with a fate-sealing blow: “Your dragon is no goat,” jokes James. The voiceover concludes with, “Be the king of your castle. Win $100,000 300 times a day playing Keno!”

Artifact has collaborated with BBDO Atlanta on the Georgia Lottery campaign for the past several years. Among the previous five spots, Kevin has been seen flying a fighter jet, and dueling with evil villains in a spy drama.

“The agency is really good about involving us during their pre-production process to ensure everything goes smoothly on set,” explains Artifact creative director Ryan Tuttle. “This is huge for us. By allowing open communication with the production team, director and DP we’re able to figure out exactly what we want to do on set so that we don’t waste time and, more importantly, achieve the best creative assets we can.”

Tuttle reports that VFX have always been crucial to making Kevin’s fire-breathing a reality “since it’s what usually gets him and James out of trouble, or saves the day. “Rather than rely on 3D simulation to create the fire, we partnered with the production company’s pyro team and created the effect practically,” he continues. “This approach has given us by far the most believable results ever since we began working on this campaign.”

The opening scene required extensive matte painted landscapes, as well as painstaking crowd duplication for the army. Perhaps the biggest challenge that Artifact overcame was the project’s fast turnaround of less than two weeks.

“This spot really does show how we can achieve the highest level of VFX and finishing services for our clients,” reports Tuttle. “It also demonstrates that we’re able to be part of a bigger team and work with the agency as well as other partners, from editorial, to color to sound. We also provided design and animation of the end-tags for these spots.”

For all the VFX comps, Artifact called on Flame. Design and animation was all handled in the Adobe Creative Suite, specifically After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator. According to the Artifact team, a very important piece of technology was a hard drive. Because of the quick turnaround time, they had to move quickly, especially for Scene One. They were able to work with a DIT on set and get all of the plates shot from the first scene and begin working almost immediately.

 

Utopic editor talks post for David Lynch tribute Psychogenic Fugue

Director Sandro Miller called on Utopic partner and editorCraig Lewandowski to collaborate on Psychogenic Fugue, a 20-minute film starring John Malkovich in which the actor plays seven characters in scenes recreated from some of filmmaker David Lynch’s films and TV shows. These characters include The Log Lady, Special Agent Dale Cooper, and even Lynch himself as narrator of the film.

It is part of a charity project called Playing Lynch that will benefit the David Lynch Foundation, which seeks to introduce at-risk populations affected by trauma to transcendental meditation.

craigChicago-based Utopic handled all the post, including editing, graphics, VFX and sound design. The film is part of a multimedia fundraiser hosted by Squarespace and executed by Austin-based agency, Preacher. The seven vignettes were released one at a time on Playinglynch,com.

To find out more about Utopic’s work on the film, we reached out to Lewandowski with some questions.

How early were you brought in on the film?
We were brought in before the project was even finalized. There were a couple other ideas that were kicked around before this one rose to the top.

We cut together a timing board using all the pieces we would later be recreating. We also pulled some hallway scenes from an old Playstation commercial that he directed, and we then scratched in all the “Lynch” lines for timing.

You were on set. Can you talk about why and what the benefits were for the director and you as an editor?
My job on the set was to have our reference movie at the ready and make sure we were matching timing, framing, lighting, etc. Sandro would often check the reference to make sure we were on track.

For scenes like the particles in Eraserhead, I had the DP shoot it at various frame rates and at the highest possible resolution, so we could shoot it vertical and use the particles falling. I also worked with the Steadicam operator to get a variety of shots in the hallway since I knew we’d need to create some jarring cutaways.

How big of a challenge was it dealing with all those different iconic characters, especially in a 20-minute film?
Sandro was adamant that we not try to “improve” on anything that David Lynch originally shot. Having had a lot of experience with homages, Sandro knew that we couldn’t take liberties. So the sets and action were designed to be as close as possible to the original characters.

In shots where it was only one character originally (The Lady in the Radiator, Special Agent Dale Cooper, Elephant Man) it was easier, but in scenes where there were originally more characters and now it was just Malkovich, we had to be a little more creative (Frank Booth, Mystery Man). Ultimately, with the recreations, my job was to line up as closely as possible with what was originally done, and then with the audio do my best to stay true to the original.

Can you talk about your process and how you went about matching the original scenes? Did you feel much pressure?
Sandro and I have worked together before, so I didn’t feel a lot of pressure from him, but I think I probably put a fair amount on myself because I knew how important this project was for so many people. And, as is the case with anything I edit, I don’t take it lightly that all of that effort that went into preproduction and production now sits on my shoulders.

Again, with the recreations it was actually fairly straightforward. It was the corridor shots where Malkovich plays Lynch and recites lines taken from various interviews that offered the biggest opportunity, and challenge. Because there was no visual reference for this, I could have some more fun with it. Most of the recreations are fairly slow and ominous, so I really wanted these corridor shots to offset the vignettes, kind of jar you out of the trance you were just put in, make you uneasy and perhaps squirm a bit, before being thrust into the next recreation.

What about the VFX? Can you talk about how they fit in and how you worked with them?
Many of the VFX were either in-camera or achieved through editorial, but there were spots — like where he’s in the corridor and snaps from the front to the back — that I needed something more than I could accomplish on my own, so I used our team at Utopic. However, when cutting the trailer, I relied heavily on our motion graphics team for support.

Psychogenic Fugue is such an odd title, so the writer/creative director, Stephen Sayadin, came up with the idea of using the dictionary definition. We took it a step further, beginning the piece with the phonetic spelling and then seamlessly transitioning the whole thing. They then tried different options for titling the characters. I knew I wanted to use the hallway shot, close-ups of the characters and ending on Lynch/Malkovich in the chair. They gave me several great options.

What was the film shot on, and what editing system did you use?
The film was shot on Red at 6K. I worked in Adobe Premiere, using the native Red files. All of our edit machines at Utopic are custom-built, high-performance PCs assembled by the editors themselves.

What about tools for the visual effects?
Our compositor/creative finisher used an Autodesk Flame, and our motion graphics team used Adobe After Effects.

Can you talk about the sound design?
I absolutely love working on sound design and music, so this was a dream come true for me. With both the film and the trailer, our composer Eric Alexandrakis provided me with long, odd, disturbing tracks, complete with stems. So I spent a lot of time just taking his music and sound effects and manipulating them. I then had our sound designer at Brian Lietner jump in and go crazy.

Is there a scene that you are most proud of, or that was most challenging, or both?
I really like the snap into the flame/cigarette at the very beginning. I spent a long time just playing with that shot, compositing a bunch of shots together, manipulating them, adjusting timing, coming back in the next morning and changing it all up again. I guess that and Eraserhead. We had so many passes of particles and layered so many throughout the piece. That shot was originally done with him speaking to camera, but we had this pass of him just looking around, and realized it was way more powerful to have the lines delivered as though they were internal monologue. It also allowed us to play with the timings in a way that we wouldn’t be able to with a one-take shot.

As far as what I’m most proud of, it’s the trailer. We worked really hard to get the recreations and full film done. Then I was able to take some time away from it all and come back fresh. I knew that there was a ton of great footage to work with and we had to do something that wasn’t just a cutdown. It was important to me that the trailer feel every bit as demented as the film itself, if not more. I think we accomplished that.

Check out the trailer here:

G-Tech 6-15

New Wacom Cintiq Pro line offers portability, updated pen, more

Wacom has introduced a new line of Wacom Cintiq Pro creative pen displays: the Cintiq Pro 13 and Cintiq Pro 16. The Wacom Cintiq Pro features a thin and portable form factor, making them suitable for working on the road or remotely.

Cintiq Pro’s new Pro Pen 2, according to Wacom, offers four times greater accuracy and pressure sensitivity than the previous Pro Pen. The improved Pro Pen 2 creates an intuitive experience with virtually lag-free tracking on a glass surface that produces the right amount of friction, and is coated to reduce reflection.

Additionally, the new optical bonding process reduces parallax, providing a pen-on-screen performance that feels natural and has the feedback of a traditional pen or brush. Both Cintiq Pro models also feature multi-touch for easy and fast navigation, as well as the ability to pinch, zoom and rotate illustrations, photos or models within supporting 2D or 3D creative software apps.

Both high-resolution Cintiq Pro models come with an optimized edge-to-edge etched glass workspace. The Cintiq Pro also builds on its predecessor, the Cintiq 13HD touch, offering the ExpressKey Remote as an optional accessory so users can customize their most commonly used shortcuts and modifiers when working with their most-used software applications. In addition, ergonomic features, such as ErgoFlex, fully integrated pop out legs and an optional three-position desk stand (available in February), let users focus on their work instead of constantly adjusting for comfort.

The Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 and 16 are compatible with both Macs and PCs and feature full HD (1920×1080) and UHD (3840×2160) resolution, respectively. Both Cintiq Pro configurations deliver vivid colors, the 13-inch model providing 87 percent Adobe RGB and the 16-inch, 94 percent.

Priced at $999.95 USD, the Cintiq Pro 13 is expected to be available online and at select retail locations at the beginning of December. The Cintiq Pro 16, $1499.95 USD, is expected in February.


2016 HPA Award winners

The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) held its annual awards this week at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The HPA Awards recognize individuals and companies for outstanding contributions made in the creation of feature films, television, commercials, and entertainment content enjoyed around the world.

Awards were bestowed in creative craft categories honoring behind-the-scenes artistry, and a host of special awards were also presented.

The winners of the 2016 HPA Awards are:

Outstanding Color Grading – Feature Film

Carol
John Dowdell // Goldcrest Post Productions Ltd

WINNER – The Revenant
Steven J. Scott // Technicolor Production Services

Brooklyn
Asa Shoul // Molinare

The Martian
Stephen Nakamura // Company 3

The Jungle Book
Steven J. Scott // Technicolor Production Services

Outstanding Color Grading – Television

Vinyl – E.A.B
Steven Bodner // Deluxe/Encore NY

Fargo – The Myth of Sysiphus
Mark Kueper // Technicolor

Outlander – Faith
Steven Porter // MTI Film

WINNER – Gotham – By Fire
Paul Westerbeck // Encore Hollywood

Show Me A Hero – Part 1
Sam Daley // Technicolor PostWorks NY

Outstanding Color Grading – Commercial
Fallout 4The Wanderer
Siggy Ferstl / Company 3

Toyota Prius – Poncho
Sofie Borup // Company 3

NASCAR – Team
Lez Rudge // Nice Shoes

Audi R8 – Commander
Stefan Sonnenfeld // Company 3

Apple Music – History of Sound
Gregory Reese // The Mill

Pennzoil – Joyride Circuit
Dave Hussey // Company 3

WINNER – Hennessy – Odyssey
Tom Poole // Company 3

Outstanding Editing – Feature Film

The Martian
Pietro Scalia, ACE

The Big Short

The Revenant
Stephen Mirrione, ACE

WINNER – The Big Short
Hank Corwin, ACE

Sicario
Joe Walker, ACE

Spotlight
Tom McArdle, ACE

Outstanding Editing – Television (TIE)

Body Team 12
David Darg // RYOT Films

Underground – The Macon 7
Zack Arnold, Ian Tan // Sony Pictures Television

Vinyl – Pilot
David Tedeschi

martin-nicholson-ace-greg-babor-editing-for-tv-winners-at-2016-hpa-awards

Roots winners for editing, Martin Nicholson, ACE, Greg Babor

WINNER – Roots – Night One
Martin Nicholson, ACE, Greg Babor

WINNER – Game of Thrones – Battle of the Bastards
Tim Porter, ACE

Outstanding Editing – Commercial

WINNER – Wilson – Nothing Without It
Doobie White // Therapy Studios

Nespresso – Training Day
Chris Franklin // Big Sky Edit

Saucony – Be A Seeker
Lenny Mesina // Therapy Studios

Samsung – Teresa
Kristin McCasey // Therapy Studios

Outstanding Sound – Feature Film

Room
Steve Fanagan, Niall Brady, Ken Galvin // Ardmore Sound

Eye In The Sky
Craig Mann, Adam Jenkins, Bill R. Dean, Chase Keehn // Technicolor Creative Services

Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
Scott Hecker // Formosa Group
Chris Jenkins, Michael Keller // Warner Bros. Post Production Services

Zootopia
David Fluhr, CAS, Gabriel Guy, CAS, Addison Teague // Walt Disney Company

WINNER – Sicario
Alan Murray, Tom Ozanich, John Reitz // Warner Bros. Post Production Services

Outstanding Sound – Television

WINNER – Outlander – Prestonpans
Nello Torri, Alan Decker, Brian Milliken, Vince Balunas  // NBCUniversal Post Sound

Game of Thrones – Battle of the Bastards
Tim Kimmel, MPSE, Paula Fairfield, Mathew Waters, CAS, Onnalee Blank, CAS, Bradley C. Katona, Paul Bercovitch // Formosa Group

Preacher – See
Richard Yawn, Mark Linden, Tara Paul // Sony Sound

Marco Polo – One Hundred Eyes
David Paterson, Roberto Fernandez, Alexa Zimmerman, Glenfield Payne, Rachel Chancey // Harbor Picture Company

House of Cards – Chapter 45
Jeremy Molod, Ren Klyce, Nathan Nance, Scott R. Lewis, Jonathan Stevens // Skywalker Sound

Outstanding Sound – Commercial

WINNER – Sainsbury’s – ­Mog’s Christmas Calamity
Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson // Factory

Save the Children UK – Still The Most Shocking Second A Day
Jon Clarke // Factory

Wilson – Nothing Without It
Doobie White // Therapy Studios

Honda – Paper
Phil Bolland // Factory

Honda – Ignition
Anthony Moore // Factory

Outstanding Visual Effects – Feature Film

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jay Cooper, Yanick Dusseault, Rick Hankins, Carlos Munoz, Polly Ing // Industrial Light & Magic

WINNER – The Jungle Book
Robert Legato, Andrew R. Jones
Adam Valdez, Charley Henley // MPC
Keith Miller // Weta Digital

Captain America: Civil War
Russell Earl, Steve Rawlins, Francois Lambert, Pat Conran, Rhys Claringbull // Industrial Light & Magic

The Martian
Chris Lawrence, Neil Weatherley, Bronwyn Edwards, Dale Newton // Framestore

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Pablo Helman, Robert Weaver, Kevin Martel, Shawn Kelly, Nelson Sepulveda // Industrial Light & Magic

Outstanding Visual Effects – Television

Supergirl – Pilot
Armen V. Kevorkian, Andranik Taranyan, Gevork Babityan, Elaina Scott, Art Sayan // Encore VFX

Ripper Street – The Strangers’ Home
Ed Bruce, Nicholas Murphy, Denny Cahill, John O’Connell // Screen Scene

Black Sails – XXI
Erik Henry // Starz
Matt Dougan // Digital Domain
Martin Ogren, Jens Tenland, Nicklas Andersson // ILP

The Flash – Guerilla Warfare
Armen V. Kevorkian, Thomas J. Conners, Andranik Taranyan, Gevork Babityan, Jason Shulman // Encore VFX

Holly Shiffman and Mike Chapman with VFX winner for Game of Thrones, Matthew Rouleau.

WINNER – Game of Thrones – Battle of the Bastards
Joe Bauer, Eric Carney // Fire & Blood Productions
Derek Spears // Rhythm & Hues 
Glenn Melenhorst // Iloura
Matthew Rouleau // Rodeo FX

Outstanding Visual Effects – Commercial

Sainsbury’s – Mog’s Christmas Calamity
Ben Cronin, Grant Walker, Rafael Camacho // Framestore

WINNER – Microsoft Xbox – Halo 5: The Hunt Begins
Ben Walsh, Ian Holland, Brian Delmonico, Brian Burke // Method

AT&T – Power of &amp
James Dick, Corrina Wilson, Euna Kho, Callum McKeveny // Framestore

Kohler – Never Too Next
Andy Boyd, Jake Montgomery, Zachary DiMaria, David Hernandez // JAMM

Gatorade – Sports Fuel
JD Yepes, Richard Shallcross // Framestore

Emerging Leader Award

2016 Winners- Jesse Korosi, Jennifer Zeidan

The following special awards, which were previously announced, were also presented this evening:

HPA Engineering Excellence Award

Sponsored by NAB Show

The HPA Engineering Excellence Award is recognized as one of the most important technology honors in the industry, spotlighting companies and individuals who draw upon technical and creative ingenuity to develop breakthrough technologies.  Submissions for this peer-judged award may include products or processes, and must represent a step forward for its industry beneficiaries.

2016 Winners 

Aspera: FASPStream

Grass Valley: GV Node Real Time IP Processing and Edge Routing Platform

RealD: Ultimate Screen

SGO: Mistika

Honorable mentions:
Grass Valley: LDX 86N Native 4K Series Camera

Canon USA, Inc.: 4K / UHD / 2K / HD display

HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation

The HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation recognizes companies and individuals who have demonstrated excellence, whether in the development of workflow and process to support creative storytelling or in technical innovation. The Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation is conferred by a jury of industry experts.

2016 Winner- The Mill: Blackbird

HPA Lifetime Achievement Award

The HPA Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual who is recognized for his or her service and commitment to the professional media content industry. The mission of the award is to give recognition to individuals who have, with great service, dedicated their careers to the betterment of the industry. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given at the discretion of the HPA Board of Directors and the HPA Awards Committee. It is not bestowed every year.

herb-dow

Herb Dow

2016 Honoree- Herb Dow, ACE

The Charles S. Swartz Award

The Charles S. Swartz Award is conferred on a person, group, or company that has made significant artistic, technological, business or educational impact across diverse aspects of the media industry. The award was named in honor of the late Charles S. Swartz, who led the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California from 2002 until 2006, building it into the industry’s premiere testing bed for new digital cinema technologies.

2016 Honoree – Michelle Munson, Founder and CEO of Aspera


GenPop’s Bill Yukich directs, edits gritty open for Amazon’s Goliath 

Director/editor Bill Yukich helmed the film noir-ish opening title sequence for Amazon’s new legal drama, Goliath. Produced by LA-based content creation studio GenPop, the black and white intro starts with Goliath lead actor Billy Bob Thornton jumping into the ocean. While underwater, and smoking a cigarette and holding a briefcase, he casually strolls through rooms filled with smoke and fire. At the end of the open, he rises from the water as the Santa Monica Pier appears next to him and as the picture turns from B&W to color. The Silent Comedy’s “Bartholomew” track plays throughout.

The ominous backdrop, of a man underwater but not drgoliathowning, is a perfect visual description of Thornton’s role as disgraced lawyer Billy McBride. Yukich’s visuals, he says, are meant to strike a balance between dreamlike and menacing.

The approved concept called for a dry shoot, so Yukich came up with solutions to make it seem as though the sequence was actually filmed underwater. Shot on a Red Magnesium Weapon camera, Yukich used a variety of in-camera techniques to achieve the illusion of water, smoke and fire existing within the same world, including the ingenious use of smoke to mimic the movement of crashing waves.

After wrapping the live-action shoot with Thornton, Yukich edited and color corrected the sequence. The VFX work was mostly supplementary and used to enhance the practical effects which were captured on set, such as adding extra fireballs into the frame to make the pyrotechnics feel fuller. Editing was via Adobe Premiere and VFX and color was done in Autodesk Flame. In the end, 80 percent was live action and only 20 percent visual effects.

Once post production was done, Yukich projected the sequence onto a screen which was submerged underwater and reshot the projected footage. Though technically challenging, Yukich says, this Inception-style method of re-shooting the footage gave the film the organic quality that he was looking for.

Yukich recently worked as lead editor for Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. Stepping behind the lens was a natural progression for Yukich, who began directing concerts for bands like Godsmack and The Hollywood Undead, as well as music videos for HIM, Vision of Disorder and The Foo Fighters.

NAB 1/17

Sarofsky adds VFX/finishing artist Cory Davis, designer Dan Tiffany

Chicago-based Sarofsky, a design-heavy production company, has added creative VFX and finishing artist Cory Davis and designer Dan Tiffany to its staff. A Chicago-based freelance VFX artists for many years, Davis’ Sarofsky resume includes work on the title sequences for the Marvel’s Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, as well as the main titles for TNT’s Animal Kingdom and a variety of Super Bowl ads. He is a BFA graduate of Ohio University and pursued advanced studies at The Illinois Institute of Art.

“Cory has been working with us for years now as our go-to finishing artist… and I really mean artist, because he is beyond a masterful technician,” says ECD Erin Sarofsky. “He is also a creative force with a distinct point of view.”

Tiffany has been freelancing for Sarofsky and other creative industry firms in Chicago since 2015. A BFA graduate of the Illinois Institute of Art, Tiffany began his career as an intern for creative agency Leviathan before landing a staff position with Daily Planet in 2011. Since going freelance, he has worked on high-profile commercial, broadcast and theatrical projects for Comcast, Leo Burnett and mcgarrybowen, to name but a few. He was also an integral part of Sarofsky’s design team behind the main titles for both Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange.

Main Title Caption (L-R) Cory Davis and Dan Tiffany.

NAB 1/17

Marvel’s Victoria Alonso to receive VES Visionary Award

The VES (Visual Effects Society) has named Victoria Alonso, producer and Marvel Studios EVP of production, as the next recipient of its Visionary Award in recognition of her contributions to visual arts and filmed entertainment. The award will be presented to Alonso at the 15th Annual VES Awards on February 7 at the Beverly Hilton.

The VES Visionary Award, voted on by the VES board of directors, “recognizes an individual who has uniquely and consistently employed the art and science of visual effects to foster imagination and ignite future discoveries by way of artistry, invention and groundbreaking work.” VES will honor Alonso for her dedication to the industry and advancement of storytelling through visual effects.

Alonso is currently executive producing James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. In her executive role, she oversees post and visual effects for Marvel’s slate. She executive produced Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America: Civil War, Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man, Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World and Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, as well as Marvel’s The Avengers for Joss Whedon. She co-produced Iron Man and Iron Man 2 with director Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branagh’s Thor and Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger.

Alonso’s career began as a commercial VFX producer. From there, she VFX-produced numerous feature films, working with such directors as Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven), Tim Burton (Big Fish) and Andrew Adamson (Shrek), to name a few.

Over the years, Alonso’s dedication to the industry has been admired and her achievements recognized. Alonso was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Visual Effects Society Summit, where she exemplified her role as an advocate for women in the visual effects industry. In 2015, she was an honoree of the New York Women in Film & Television’s Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement.  This past January she was presented with the Advanced Imaging Society’s Harold Lloyd Award and was recently named to Variety’s 2016 Power of Women L.A. Impact Report, which spotlights creatives and executives who’ve ‘rocked’ the industry in the past year.

Alfonso is in good company. Previous winners of the VES Visionary Award have been Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Alfonso Cuarón, J.J. Abrams and Syd Mead.


Behind the Title: Iloura lead animator Dean Elliott

NAME: Dean Elliott

COMPANY: Iloura (@iloura_vfx)

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ILOURA?
Based in Melbourne and Sydney, Iloura houses a collective of animation and VFX artists.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Lead Animator

THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
My role can change depending on the project that I’m working on at the time. On a production with only a small scope for character animation like Mad Max: Fury Road, I will work purely as an animator producing shots for the film, whereas on a larger character-based film like SpongeBob SquarePants I would work as a more traditional lead — helping other animators to hit required notes, communicating direction and working as a sounding board for any performance ideas they may have.

Then on a production like Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards, l spent most of my time supervising the complex crowd system we developed to extend the scope of our hero keyframe animation.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
Somehow l seem to have ended up spending a lot of time in the mocap suit over the past 12 months. This isn’t something l had intended, but it does make it a lot easier when l can plan and generate complex performances that would be otherwise very difficult to achieve directing other actors, or purely by keyframing.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING IN VFX?
I’ve been working as an animator for over 15 years now at various studios.

HOW HAS YOUR PART OF THE INDUSTRY CHANGED IN THE TIME YOU’VE BEEN WORKING? 
As an animator, I haven’t seen any great advances in the technology we use to do our job. At the end of the day, animators only really have to deal with timing and poses. The biggest change has been the career becoming more accessible as a profession, and it’s been a good one. The tools have leveled the playing field, and now when we look for animators we don’t need to look for traditional art skills like drawing. As long as they understand performance and movement they can produce amazing work.

DID A PARTICULAR FILM INSPIRE YOU ALONG THIS PATH IN ENTERTAINMENT?
Like most people in the industry I had a lot of influences that led me in this direction, but the main film that finally tipped me over was A Bug’s Life. I could see a very strong future for 3D animation watching that film; that was when l thought l could make a career out of a hobby.

DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL FOR ANIMATION?
Not for animation. There were no courses available for animation when l left school. So instead l studied illustration to build my creative skills, and in my spare time researched animation on the Internet and taught myself at home.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I really enjoy the start of each production. Doing motion tests to establish how a character will move and looking at the storyboards or previs for the first time.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
When you’re getting close to the deadline and the schedule becomes more important than reworking the shot because you came up with a better idea for the character.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I’d love to say l would be a pilot. But then again, l spent so much time drawing in school that my grades weren’t very good, so l doubt anyone would have let me fly 50 tons of metal across the sky. (Which is probably best, now that l think of it.)

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
We recently finished production on Underworld 5, and before that we completed the Battle of the Bastards sequence in Season 6, Episode 9 of Game of Thrones.

The Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards

WHAT IS THE PROJECT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
I think Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards has been the most rewarding. We set out to greatly improve our crowd animation for the sequence, and it’s probably the only project l’ve worked on where the final result looked as good what I had imagined it would be when I started.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE DAY TO DAY?
Along with a number of in-house tools, we rely on Maya day to day for all of our keyframe animation. We have also recently started using Massive for crowds and iPi Motion Capture in a small in-house mocap space.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Many places. It’s very easy to find your way to a lot of very impressive work on the Internet these days. I’m probably most inspired by work in other films, and I follow a lot of illustrators and artists as well.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
Leave work and go home.


Ronen Tanchum brought on to run The Artery’s new AR/VR division

New York City’s The Artery has named Ronen Tanchum head of its newly launched virtual reality/augmented reality division. He will serve as creative director/technical director.

Tanchum has a rich VFX background, having produced complex effects set-ups and overseen digital tools development for feature films including Deadpool, Transformers, The Amazing Spiderman, Happy Feet 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Wolverine. He is also the creator of the original VR film When We Land: Young Yosef. His work on The Future of Music — a 360-degree virtual experience from director Greg Barth and Phenomena Labs, which immerses the viewer in a surrealist musical space — won the DA&D Silver Award in the “Best Branded Content” category in 2016.

“VR today stands at just the tip of the iceberg,” says Tanchum. “Before VR came along, we were just observers and controlled our worlds through a mouse and a keyboard. Through the VR medium, humans become active participants in the virtual world — we get to step into our own imaginations with a direct link to our brains for the first time, experiencing the first impressions of a virtual world. As creators, VR offers us a very powerful tool by which to present a unique new experience.”

Tanchum says the first thing he asks a potential new VR client is, ‘Why VR? What is the role of VR in your story? “Coming from our long experiences in the CG world by working on highly demanding creative visual projects, we at The Artery have evolved our collective knowledge and developed a strong pipeline into this new VR platform,” he explains, adding that The Artery’s new division is currently gearing up for a big VR project for a major brand. “We are using it to its fullest to tell stories. We inform our clients that VR shouldn’t be created just because it’s ‘cool.’ The new VR platform should be used to play an integral part of the storyline itself — a well crafted VR experience should embellish and complement the story.”

 

The Colonie provides editing, VFX for Toyota Corolla spot

Chicago’s The Colonie has teamed with Burrell Communications to provide editorial, visual effects and design services for I Do, a broadcast spot introducing the 2017 Toyota Corolla.

Creative editor Bob Ackerman edited with the carmaker’s tagline, “Let’s Go Places,” in mind. Fast-paced cuts and editing effects helped create an upbeat message that celebrates the new Corolla, as well as its target audience — what Toyota refers to as today’s “on-the-go” generation of young adults.

Lewis Williams, Burrell’s EVP/CCO, brought The Colonie onboard early in the process to collaborate with the production company The Cavalry, ensuring the seamless integration of a variety of visual effects that were central to the style of this spot.

The commercial integrates three distinct vignettes. The spot opens with a young woman behind the wheel of her Toyota. She arrives at a city park and her friends help her yarn bomb the surroundings — from hand-knitted tree trunk covers to a slipcover for a love seat and a garbage pail cozy in the likeness of whimsical characters.

barbarFrom the get-go art director Winston Cheung was very focused on keeping the tone of the spot fresh and young. When selecting footage during the edit session, Ackerman and Cheung made sure to use some of the more playful set-ups from the yarn vignette to providing the bold color palette for final transfer.

The second scenario finds an enterprising man parking his Corolla and unloading his “Pop-Up Barbershop” in front of a tall wall featuring artful graffiti. A well-placed painting of a young man’s face extends over the top of the wall completes the picture. As soon as the barber sets up his chair, his first customer arrives.

The third vignette features a young filmmaker shooting footage of the 2017 Toyota as her crew adds some illuminating effects. Taking her cues from this scene, The Colonie senior designer, Jen Moody, crafted a series of shots that use a “light painting” technique to create a trail of light effect. One of the characters writes the spot’s title, I Do with a light, which Moody layered to create a more tangible quality that really sells the effect. VFX supervisor Tom Dernulc took a classic Toyota Corolla from a previous segment and seamlessly integrated it into the background of the scene.

The Colonie’s team explored several methods for creating the various VFX in the spot before deciding upon a combination of Autodesk Flame Premium and Adobe After Effects. Then it was a matter of picking the right moments. Ackerman grabbed some of their top choices, roughed in the effect on the Avid Media Composer, and presented the client with a nearly finished look right from the very first rough cuts.

“Early on, creative director Lisa McConnell had expressed a desire to explore using a series of stills flashing (á la TV’s Scandal) to advance the spot’s story,” says Ackerman. “We loved the idea. Condensing short sequences of footage into rapid progressions of imagery provided us with an innovative way to convey the full scope of these three scenarios in a very limited 30-second time frame — while also adding an interesting visual element to the final spot.”

Fred Keller of Chicago’s Filmworkers provided the color grade, CRC’s Ian Scott performed the audio mix and sound design, and composers Mike Dragovic, Michael Yessian and Brian Yessian provided the score.