Evaluating the VFX Oscar Nominees

Here are the contenders: the return to a galaxy far, far away and the original post-apocalyptic world, an incredible bear, a bronze Mars, and a seductive female android.

1.”Star Wars: The Force Awakens”: It’s the entire photo-real package from ILM on its 40th anniversary—old school, new school, the best that practical and digital has to offer. Patterned after the first trilogy, shot on location and using real sets, it’s also “a forward motion.” You’ve got realistic simulations and artistic-looking explosions, a cool-looking lightsaber that’s as unstable as Kylo Ren, the adorable BB-8 droid inspired by Marilyn Monroe and the effectively mo-capped Maz and Snoke. It’s “Star Wars,” and still the heavy favorite to win the Oscar.

2. “The Revenant”: And then there’s the bear, which represents ILM’s other great achievement, and poses the biggest threat to “The Force Awakens.” Everyone’s talking about the harrowing grizzly attack and the effectiveness of the photo-real animation. Overall, the scene’s the ultimate in naturalistic cinema and a brilliant collaboration all the way around, choreographed without a cut and containing powerful dramatic beats. What’s remarkable is the randomness of the attack and the sympathy for an animal that’s only protecting its cubs.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road”: This represents a testament to the continuing power and influence of George Miller’s dystopian road picture, supported and finished by invaluable VFX. It’s essentially one long desert chase in the War Rig, with 75 vehicles and 300 stunts, utilizing the new Edge camera rig. But VFX touched everything, keeping the vehicles moving and later adding a very stylized DI. And the postvis department provided basic tracking and roto and helped define the edit for this immersive thrill ride. But the standout VFX effect was the Toxic Storm (Iloura), which was a particle sim done in Houdini with an otherworldly look.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, Oscar, performance capture, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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