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Tag: Visual effects (1-10 of 18)

'Gravity' nabs top visual-effects prize

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Alfonso Cuaron was honored with the Visionary Award last night at the 12th annual VES Awards, recognizing the best in visual special-effects — so it was no surprise that Gravity was also the ceremony’s big winner. Cuaron’s riveting outer-space thriller, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, won six awards in total, including the top prize for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture.

Frozen won four awards, including Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture; Game of Thrones had three wins as well.

In the last five years, the winner of the top prize at the VES Awards has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Special Effects four times, including last year, when Life of Pi won both awards.

Click below for a complete list of winners:

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Best of 2013 (Behind the Scenes): 'Iron Man 3' VFX artists on the Mark 42 suit design

Tony Stark is invincible — at least when it comes to the numbers for Iron Man 3, that is. A whopping $174 million at the box office opening weekend. A staggering $409 million domestically. More than $1.2 billion grossed worldwide.

But the genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist character who’s appeared in five Marvel films so far was fallible in his third standalone feature, spending much of his post-Avengers time in his basement, designing prototype after prototype of his Iron Man suits to keep his mind off his near-death experience.

The most eye-popping one he built: The Mark 42 (below), which he can summon remotely in individual pieces to his body via sensors he injected under his skin.

Of course, “Tony Stark” didn’t build the suit at all; instead, 1500 visual effects artists worked on the film, and according to Chris Townsend, the film’s visual effects supervisor, at least half of them worked on the Mark 42.

“We ended up having eight [visual effects] companies throughout the world working on that particular suit,” he tells EW. “Hopefully in the end, for the audience, if we’ve done our jobs right, they’ll think from shot to shot, it looks like it’s all created by Tony Stark.”

EW talked to the minds who spearheaded the suit’s concept — the real Tony Starks, if you will — to get a breakdown of the process, from the initial idea to adding Robert Downey Jr.

Click here for more of EW.com’s Best of 2013 coverage. 
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'Now You See Me': How real illusionists made movie magic

Magicians have amazed audiences with illusions for centuries, but in modern entertainment, filmmakers are the reigning wizards. Visual effects are their illusions. CGI is their bag of tricks. All that is very familiar to French director Louis Leterrier, whose movies include The Incredible Hulk and Clash of the Titans. But for his latest movie, Now You See Me, opening today in theaters, he set out to limit the use of computer-generated effects.

“I was coming from those big spectacle movies where CGI was almost like one of the main characters, but from the very beginning [of developing Now You See Me] we decided to take a low-tech approach to everything,” Leterrier says.

Now You See Me stars Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco as magicians who come to be known as the Four Horsemen. When they rob a bank in the middle of one their spectacular show performances, they’re pursued by FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). READ FULL STORY

'We lost a legend': Ray Harryhausen remembered by Depp, Abrams, del Toro, Gilliam, more

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As news spread Tuesday that Ray Harryhausen had died at age 92 there was an especially emotional reaction from sci-fi, horror and fantasy filmmakers — a community with a deep and formative affection for the old-school effects wizard and the work he did on films such as The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans (1981). EW reached out to some signature names in those circles on Tuesday to frame the legacy of Harryhausen and by phone and email they responded with praise for a departed master.

J.J. Abrams, director, producer and screenwriter (Star Trek Into Darkness, Lost): “He was, obviously, a genius, infinitely ahead of his time. He inspired us all with his skill and imagination, and will be missed.”

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Peter Jackson and others weigh in on Hollywood's F/X crisis

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Visual effects artists routinely work miracles onscreen, helping Hollywood generate billions of dollars every year at the box office. Still, the VFX industry is now in a state of crisis. In the past seven months, two leading F/X houses, Digital Domain and Rhythm & Hues, have gone into bankruptcy, and several other companies have had to lay off workers. “Right now it’s near rock bottom,” says Peter Oberdorfer, a former VFX artist who now runs a digital-technology consulting firm. “The pressure is building to a point where it could get volatile for everybody involved.”

In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, The Hobbit director Peter Jackson, a digital effects pioneer who co-founded the F/X company Weta Digital, says studios are taking advantage of an oversupply of F/X houses to drive down prices. “Competition between VFX houses, which the studios obviously use to their advantage, has resulted in VFX houses operating on tiny profit margins,” Jackson says. “And when we talk ‘profit,’ it’s not about the owners buying a Porsche at the end of a big movie — it’s about having a nest egg to ride out the slow periods.” READ FULL STORY

'Sin City' director Robert Rodriguez wants YOU to be in his movie

Robert Rodriguez is currently juggling work on two buzzy feature projects, the sequels to 2005’s Sin City and 2010’s Machete, but he’s also in the midst of putting together a smaller project, a short film called Two Scoops – which is getting plenty of buzz of its own for its innovative ways of inviting fans to participate in its making. READ FULL STORY

Two VFX shops scale back; Rhythm & Hues finds a buyer

The troubled visual effects industry is facing a major shift, as three VFX shops announced major changes Friday, including the buyout of Life of Pi’s visual effects company Rhythm & Hues.

EW gave you the low-down on the struggles of the VFX industry that have been getting a bigger spotlight since Rhythm & Hues filed for bankruptcy in February. Here’s an update with the latest on three visual effects shops whose collective work includes Life of Pi, the Twilight Saga, and Doctor Who.

Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company behind the Oscar-winning effects in Life of Pi, started its bankruptcy auction earlier this week and has found a buyer. Friday afternoon the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the winning bidder, a holding company for Prana Studios, a VFX and animation company with offices in Los Angeles and Mumbai, India. A Hollywood Reporter analysis valued the deal at $17.8 million. READ FULL STORY

What's going on with the troubled VFX industry?

Image credit: Marvel, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate

Image credit: Marvel, New Line Cinema, Lionsgate

The buzz around the state of the visual effects industry reached a fever pitch this winter when prominent effects house Rhythm & Hues filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-February. Further attention was pointed at the men and women who create whole worlds from a blank green canvas during the Oscars, when VFX artists held a protest near the ceremony, which honored Life of Pi – a movie with effects by Rhythm & Hues – with an Academy Award in the visual effects category. The complaint? Movies like The Avengers, The Hunger Games, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy have scored big at the box office, grossing millions, sometimes billions worldwide, but the VFX industry that brought Asgard, Panem and Middle-earth to life doesn’t reap the same benefits as the studios.

The movement has spurred supporters to change their Facebook and Twitter profile photos to a green box, representing the green screen that would appear in movies were it not for VFX. Blogs have popped up that feature photos of what movie shots looked like before visual effects turned Andy Serkis into Gollum, before Mark Ruffalo was turned into the Hulk.

And more and more visual effects artists and their colleagues are speaking out about their financial woes and the changes to the business that they want to see. Last Thursday visual effects artists gathered for a meeting dubbed Pi Day VFX Town Hall (the name dually referencing Life of Pi and the March 14 holiday, as well as the artists’ frequent call for their “piece of the pi”). Panelists spoke to and took questions from a group of industry members at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Los Angeles, and VFX artists from around the world (including Vancouver, B.C., London, San Francisco, Austin, Tex. and New Zealand) connected via Google+ Hangout for the international discussion.

To help sort out the issues at hand in all this, EW talked to several Hollywood visual effects artists as well as with Roland Emmerich, director of visual effects-driven disaster movies Independence Day, GodzillaThe Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, as well as the upcoming White House Down. We also reached out to several other directors of effects-driven films and representatives for major Hollywood studios and for the Directors Guild of America. None returned EW’s request for comment for this article.

Just how bad are the financial woes of the visual effects industry?

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How the creators of 'Upside Down' pulled off the look of dual gravity

Filmmakers have played with gravity for long time, from Fred Astaire’s 1951 ceiling dance to the ill-fated space mission of Apollo 13 to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hallway fight in Inception. But when Argentine director Juan Solanas set out to make his romantic fantasy film Upside Down, he was presented with the challenge of filming a world not with zero gravity, but dual gravity.

Upside Down, which hit U.S. theaters this weekend, takes place on two planets that share the same atmosphere. Separate gravitational forces keep inhabitants of each on their own planet. The idea came to Solanas (who also wrote the script) as the image of two mountains facing each other, one jutting up from the ground and one down from the sky; a man on the lower mountain looks up and sees a woman standing on the other mountain. That image became the initial meeting place for Upside Down’s star-crossed lovers, Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst), who are kept apart by the governmental laws of both their worlds – and the law of gravity.

Creating a world with dual gravity where Adam attempts to visit Up Top (the richer planet that makes up the sky of his poorer Down Below) presented a slew of technical challenges to Solanas and his crew. READ FULL STORY

Oscars: Visual effects artists protest outside Dolby Theatre

Protestors are no rare sight outside Hollywood awards shows — members of extreme religious groups often set up camp near events like the SAG Awards and the Oscars. But at this year’s Academy Awards, a protest of a different kind was taking place; It came from inside Tinseltown. A reported 400 or so visual effects artists gathered outside Dolby Theatre Sunday to pronounce their grievances with their place in the industry.

The protest followed the announcement earlier this month that visual effects house Rhythm & Hues is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Protesters on a street corner near Dolby held aloft signs that read “Will matte paint for food,” “Respect for vex” and “We want a piece of the Pi.” Rhythm & Hues worked on Life of Pi, which took home the award for Best Visual Effects Sunday. READ FULL STORY

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