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Oscars 2012 Behind the Scenes: 'Real Steel' visual effects supervisor Erik Nash on bringing robot boxing to life

real-steel

Each year, the Oscars recognize A-list talent we regularly see on screen, on the red carpet, and in tabloids. But the Academy Awards also reward those who work behind the scenes: the writers, editors, costume designers, and others who help create trophy-worthy movie magic. This Oscars season, we’ll be toasting those off-screen artists by delving into the hidden secrets that helped create the on-screen magic that we — and the Academy — fell in love with. For more access backstage during this Oscars season, click here for EW.com’s Oscars Behind the Scenes coverage.

Real Steel director Shawn Levy knew he succeeded in telling the story of a washed-up fighter (Hugh Jackman) who redeems himself in the eyes of his estranged son (Dakota Goyo)–they partner to train a boxing robot–when that robot, named Atom, tested as well with movie audiences as Jackman and Goyo. Bringing Atom to life–a character that doesn’t speak or have facial expressions–involved a combination of animatronic and CG robots and the skill of motion-capture performers, puppeteers, and animators. The end result earned the film’s visual effects team an Oscar nomination. EW spoke with Digital Domain visual effects supervisor Erik Nash, who shares the nod–his second (he was also nominated for I, Robot)–with John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor, and Swen Gillberg. READ FULL STORY

Oscars 2012 Behind the Scenes: 'Real Steel' director Shawn Levy talks building robots -- VIDEO

Each year, the Oscars recognize A-list talent we regularly see on-screen, on the red carpet, and in tabloids. But the Academy Awards also reward those who work behind the scenes: the writers, editors, costume designers, and others who help create trophy-worthy movie magic. This Oscars season, we’ll be toasting those off-screen artists by delving into the hidden secrets that helped create the on-screen magic that we — and the Academy — fell in love with. For more access backstage during this Oscars season, click here for EW.com’s Oscars Behind the Scenes coverage.

If Steven Spielberg tells you to build a robot, for God’s sake, you build a robot. In the video after the jump, Reel Steel director Shawn Levy explains that under the prophetic advice of executive producer Spielberg, he opted to build full-scale robots for Reel Steel, à la Spielberg’s Jurassic Park technique. It was a good call — the film roped in an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Watch the full interview below, also featuring cameos by Hugh Jackman and Spielberg himself. READ FULL STORY

Evangeline Lilly talks 'Real Steel' (now on Blu-ray) and playing a warrior elf in 'The Hobbit'

A quick glance at Evangeline Lilly’s IMDb page reveals a filmography that’s surprisingly short on quantity. But look at what is there: a groundbreaking and beloved TV series (Lost), a Best Picture winner (The Hurt Locker), and, oh, a tiny two-movie project known as The Hobbit.

Last year, Lilly starred in the robot-boxing family film Real Steel, which earned nearly $300 million worldwide and received an Oscar nomination yesterday for its motion-capture visual effects. She played Bailey, the former girlfriend of Charlie (Hugh Jackman) who now owns the boxing gym he frequently visits.

EW recently checked in with Lilly to chat about Real Steel, which debuted on Blu-ray and DVD this week. Click through to read the interview, in which Lilly discusses why she signed up for the role, what it was like working aside animatronic machines, and her upcoming role as a kickass warrior elf in The Hobbit. READ FULL STORY

'Harry Potter,' 'Tree of Life,' 'Transformers' make Oscar VFX short list

Rise-Apes-movie

The final 10 contenders for the Oscar for Visual Effects were announced by the Academy today, winnowing the total films from the 15 semi-finalists announced last month.

Left off the short list: Cowboys & Aliens, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows; Sucker Punch; Super 8; and Thor.

Check out the ten films that made the cut below:  READ FULL STORY

Academy announces visual effects semifinalists

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the 15 films that will compete for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Check out the list below:

Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys & Aliens
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sucker Punch
Super 8
Thor
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The Tree of Life
X-Men: First Class

This list will get narrowed down to 10 next month, and five will eventually be nominated for the Academy Award on Jan. 24. I don’t envy the people who have to choose the top five — as far as the effects are concerned, there’s not a clunker in the bunch. Will the visual effects branch just go for blockbusters like Harry Potter and X-Men, or will they make room for art-house entries like Hugo and Tree of Life? We’ll find out in the coming weeks.

Dave on Twitter: @davekarger

Box office report: 'Puss in Boots' walks all over 'In Time' and 'The Rum Diary' with $34 million debut

The box office had to contend with the World Series, a very early snowstorm in the Northeast, and Halloween festivities across the country this weekend, but audiences still managed to make it to the movies! That being said, grosses for new releases Puss in Boots, In Time, and The Rum Diary, weren’t all that strong. Check out how they performed below: READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Paranormal Activity 3' records best opening day ($26.2 mil) since 'Harry Potter'

Paranormal-Activity-3

Looks like a little scare was just what Hollywood needed. After two months of tepid box-office results, the horror flick Paranormal Activity 3 shook things up with a monster $26.2 million on Friday, according to early estimates. That’s the strongest opening-day gross since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 debuted way back in July.

This is unquestionably a front-loaded result for the R-rated horror prequel, especially considering that the film’s Friday figure includes the $8 million it earned from midnight showings. Regardless, though, PA3 is headed for a massive $50 million weekend, which is considerably better than anticipated and will represent the series’ best opening so far. (By comparison, last year’s Paranormal Activity 2 collected $40.7 million its first weekend.) And keep in mind that Paramount spent only $5 million to produce PA3, which won’t have to contend with a Saw movie this Halloween. In other words: You better believe there will be a Paranormal Activity 4 trick-or-treating next year. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Paranormal Activity 3' should scare up some much-needed business

Paranormal-3

The last two Octobers have each featured a remarkably profitable Paranormal Activity film, and tomorrow, a third installment is entering theaters, vying to become to the first $100 million hit since The Help, which was released way back in August. The Three Musketeers and Johnny English Reborn will also do their best to find some business, but most of the Activity at the box office this weekend will be Paranormal.

Check out my box office predictions below:  READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Real Steel' knocks out 'Footloose', wins weekend with $16.3 million

A remake, a prequel, and one woefully misguided bird-watching comedy couldn’t take down Hugh Jackman and the robots of Real Steel at the box office this weekend.

Steel punched up an estimated $16.3 million this weekend, marking a healthy 40 percent drop from its $27.3 million debut. As evidenced by the film’s impressive 64 percent boost on Saturday, it appears that Real Steel is playing as an outright family affair, and that sort of appeal will help it achieve small drops in the coming weeks. Still, the $110 million Dreamworks film, which is being distributed by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, has a very long way to go before it’s in the black. So far, Real Steel has earned $51.7 million in ten days. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: 'Footloose' on top with $5.6 million on Friday; 'The Big Year' D.O.A.

Alright, box office, you can perk up any day now. This lull is just getting ridiculous.

Paramount’s Footloose remake danced to the top of of the box office on Friday, with a slightly underwhelming $5.6 million, and it could be headed to first place with a $16 million weekend. Meanwhile, last weekend’s victor Real Steel dropped 45 percent from last Friday, down to $4.5 million,. The Hugh Jackman vehicle should find $14.5 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

Universal’s The Thing prequel started its run in third place with $3.2 million, and it will likely earn just $9 million by weekend’s end. The Ides of March and Moneyball filled up the next two spots on the chart with $2.2 million and $1.7 million, respectively. Ides may climb to $6.5 million, and Moneyball could bat up another $5.5 million. The Brad Pitt picture will likely get passed by Dolphin Tale, which also earned $1.7 million on Friday and may swim to a $6 million weekend.

The weekend’s other new wide-release, Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson’s bird-watching comedy The Big Year, couldn’t get off the ground, taking in a wretched $1.2 million, putting it in eighth place. It may earn only $3.5 million.

1. Footloose – $5.6 mil
2. Real Steel – $4.5 mil
3. The Thing  – $3.2 mil
4. The Ides of March – $2.2 mil
5. Moneyball – $1.7 mil

Check back tomorrow for the full weekend box office report.

Read more on EW.com:
Box office preview: ‘Footloose’, ‘The Thing’, and ‘The Big Year’ step into the ring with ‘Real Steel’

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