From 8 to 11th Mai took place the FMX 2012 with an impressive selection of high quality conferences. This was an great opportunity to meet many artists interviewed here and also make beautiful meetings. A big thanks to the FMX staffs!

Here is my report of this edition:


The Devil in the Details: Virtual Humans and Complexity
Dan Zelcs, Lead Rigger and Mathieu Assemat, Lead Technical Animator, MPC
Dan starts the presentation with a great reel of a full cg shot of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE explaining the challenges of creating the hair and clothes. He then details the creation of the impressive shot in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 where we can see in a full continuous shot the transformation of 6 characters into 6 Harry Potter. He explains the whole process of building full CG head an body showing some great footages. Mathieu then take the stage and speaks about the challenge of creating human parts and cloths for the Beast transformation in X-MEN FIRST CLASS. The shot was filmed but ends to be a full cg shot in order to be more dynamic.

More informations:

Gollum to Tintin: Building Creatures at Weta
Wayne Stables, VFX Supervisor, Weta Digital
To begin the presentation, Wayne shows a impressive character reel and then talks about the importance of having a perfect skeleton before doing the next steps. He explains also the muscle importance for highly realistic characters but also for less real characters such as Tintin. He shows a lot of great materials for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN. A funny fact, is that Wayne’s brother is a pathologist and that he often calls him to have his advice! To reach a realistic aspect, he talks about this use of face lifecast made on volunteers at Weta that will then gives the skin details and also the use of Mari.

More informations:
Interview of Dan Lemmon for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.
Interview of Matt Aitken for THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN.

« Man, Chicks are just different » – DI and VFX Case Study
The Chimney Pot
The Chimney Pot team shows a really good showreel of the studio and then focus on their work for a driving sequence for a feature film. Explaining in details the way they prepared and created the background footages with the DoP collaboration. They also speaks about the keying challenges such as the rough edges, they moved on the creation of the cg rain and windshield. Finally the talks about the way their studio has expanded around Europe.

Creating the world of « John Carter »
Ken McGaugh, VFX Supervisor, Double Negative
Ken starts his presentation by showing a great proof of concept with Tars Tarkas. As Dneg haven’t made a lot of creature project at this time, the test reveals that they need to made major changes of pipeline and the work methodology to be able to handle the show needs. The anatomy of the Tarks with their four arms and their big size were quite a challenge and Ken shows to us how they approached it for the shooting process mainly for the interaction with other actors. That’s really helps to see the problem before the shooting and saves some production time. To simulate the size differences, they used many tricks like boxes, stilts and rough Tarks face on sticks. Ken shows to us some of the Tarks camp where the actors trains to move on stilts. The session ends by a shots compilation of creatures work on JOHN CARTER.

More informations:
Interview of Peter Chiang for JOHN CARTER.

Delivering « John Carter » to Mars and 3D Cinema Goers
Sue Rowe, VFX Supervisor, Cinesite
Sue explains the task of a VFX supervisor and its interaction with other departments. She focus on the way she can explain the content of greenscreen and also help the DoP to light the stages with some previs especially for the ships docks. Sue then talks in details about the main challenges faced by Cinesite on this show. It’s the biggest project to date for the studio. She talks about the photogrammetry to help to create the Mars environment based on the materials she takes during the principal photography in Utah. Cinesite has also handled some artistic concept like the wing of the flyer. Sue ends by explaining one of main challenges on this show, the Thern effect and how they used of Houdini for it.

More informations:
Interview of Sue Rowe for JOHN CARTER.

« Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings » cinematics – Technical Challenges
Platige Image
The Platige team starts by showing a cinematic collection of their work for THE WITCHER. They talks then about this new cinematic starting with a script and with the creation of a storyboard. After that they created a previs for the whole cinematic that will help to block the editing and allow to go on the mocap session. For this step, they recreated the stage with the boat dimension to help the actors. Many of them plays more than one character. They shows us great footages of the mocap session. After that they gives us an in-depth look on the cloth and destruction processes. They ends by showing an impressive “wheel of production” on a big poster.

More informations:
Interview of Platige Image team for THE WITCHER 2.


The Visual Effects of « Bones »
Christian Cardona, VFX Supervisor, LOOK Effects
Christian presents the work of Look Effects on BONES and the big challenge of a short schedule and delivery date for a single episode. Only 10 days from script to final shot! And all that was managed by a team of 5 artists including Christian. Really impressive! One of his tips: going old school like shooting models and live elements for water interaction to avoid the fluid sim time consuming. He then details his work with the creation of a twister for a specific episode and how he helps the story by augmenting the footages by adding a wood wheel.

The Visual Effects of « Borgia »
Jonathan Weber, VFX Supervisor, RISE
After a brief presentation of Rise FX, Jonathan take place and explain in details the challenges of recreating Rome as it was at the Borgia time. Lots of elements and places were completely different like the ceiling of the Sistine chapel and the St. Peter place. One of the unusual challenge was the blue reflection on the set that affect too much the set after the despill process that turned the image almost in black and white. To deal with this, Rise needs to create unplanned parts of the sets and ends almost in some shots to recreate the whole set in CG. Rise also helps with previs for some specific shots. The presentation ends by a explaining the pipeline at Rise.

The Visual Effects of « Game of Thrones »
Juri Stannosek, VFX Supervisor and Thilo Ewers, Environment Supervisor, PIXOMONDO
Juri and Thilo presents their work on the second season of GAME OF THRONES. Only a part of it in fact due to broadcast matters. Again, the main challenge on this tv show was the huge amount of work to be done on such a short timeline. Juri explains with lot of details the creation of the Shadow creature and the huge challenge of his particular aspect. Thilo then explains the challenge to deliver more than 300 different environment with three new major locations. Finally Juri speaks about the dragons and even if the most impressive comes for the final season, their little dragons are quite impressive.

« Ghost Recon Alpha »: Creative synergy and non-linear production: the challenges of making a game-related movie
Nicolas Rey, Head of CG for Feature Films and Frédéric Groetschel, Executive Producer, Mikros Image
Fred Groetschel and Nicolas Rey explains the Mikros Image work on this Ghost Recon Alpha short film. The second live action feature by Ubisoft. Nicolas talks in details about the shooting process and the work on the various departments. We also have an in-depth presentation of the impressive location. Nicolas talks about shooting challenges such as managing the big changes of weather conditions and how they made some on-set interactions for the drone. One of the biggest un-planned challenge was the massive changes of design for the drone and the warhound after the shooting! Some live action shots have to be recreate in full CG!


Montreal techno-creative ecosystem
Alexandre Renaud, Director, Corporate Services, Research and Development, CentreNAD
Alexandre Renaud explains the Montreal city and economy. Showing the main key players in the entertainment industry. Mainly focus on game development and the future of this specific economy.

Strategies and thoughts on film & game convergence: Virtual concept or reality?
Pierre Raymond, President & Head of Operations, Hybride
Pierre Reymond details the most important work done by Hybride on SPY KIDS serie, 300 and AVATAR with some impressive breakdown. And then speaks about fame and film convergence. And then speaks about game and film convergence. And explains in details the shooting of ASSASSIN CREED LINEAGE with a great idea, to project the building blueprint on the floor, that allows the team to shoot more than 40 shots per day! He also explain the asset exchange with Ubisoft and the way to put the city models directly from the game in Hybride pipeline.

More informations:
Interview of Daniel Leduc for AVATAR.

Looking into the past, present and future work of Modus FX : delivering digital effects for film, CGI animated features and creative imagery
Marc Bourbonnais, President and Co-founder, Modus FX
Marc presents the three main activities of Modus FX: digital effects, full CG feature and documentaries. He then explains the challenges of being a multi-projects facility and talks about the future plans of the studio. Marc also talks about the production challenges of the different production domains with the help of simple but efficient curve lines.

FMX Trailer « Globosome »
Sascha Geddert, Filmakademie
Interesting presentation about the creation of FMX trailer by its creator. He starts by explaining how he finds the idea and then creating some concepts. For each major parts such as concept, compositing or stereo aspect of his project, Sascha invites on stages his friends to explains their contributions.

The Visual Effects of The Avengers
Jeff White, VFX Supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic and Guy Williams, VFX Supervisor, Weta Digital
Here comes the biggest and most anticipated conference, the Gloria 1 hall was at his full capacity.
Guy Williams explains the work methodology of Weta on this show by showing to us footages of each steps from previz to final shot. He start with a Captain America shot when he jumps out the Quintjet by explaining why it was better to have a full cg Captain America in order to control more the movement and dynamic. Guy then talks about the sequence of the Mountain top with Thor and Loki and then with the huge fight in the Forest between Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. For a specific shot in which Iron Man is pushing Thor face on a cliff, Guy shows some of mocap footages and lots of layers to reach the final result. Finally Guy explain the Helicarrier sequence and how they did the engine destruction and the use of the deep compositing.

Jeff White then comes on stage and talks about the Aliens and the Leviathans. Some unusal references where used for the Leviathan flesh such as sushi. He then explains in details how they created New York in CG by taking more than 260’000 HDR photos on a two months shooting! He shows also lots of props and vehicles to fill the streets. Then Jeff talks about Hulk and the great use of Green Steve, a impressive stand-in full of muscles painted in green. They also created an amazing cg version of Mark Rufalo with a impressive amounts of details.

More informations:
Interview of Jeff White for THE AVENGERS (coming soon).
Interview of Guy Williams for THE AVENGERS (coming soon).


Virtual Production at ILM and Lucasfilm: Reinventing the Creative Process
Steve Sullivan, Senior Technology Officer, Lucasfilm LTD and Michael Sanders, Digital Supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic
Truly amazing in-depth looks on the virtual production development and tools made at ILM. The line between previz and final result are more and more tiny especially for broadcast projects such as clone war. All the process tend to be really lighter and less invasive on the shooting sets. The previz tools such as Zvis and Gwiz are really impressive.

« Battleship »: Not just a Board Game
Marshall Krasser, Compositing Supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic
Marshall explains the new water simulation approach to meet the specific needs of the show. He shows great simulations video of many shots. He then details the major step such as animation, lighting and rendering for the stingers and aliens. And then speaks about Nuke compositing and the tools developed for the show. Damn the beauty pass looks really great! He mentioned also one of the biggest challenge on the show, tracking ocean water, one other challenge was the rotoscoping process for the Missouri shots with actors because the Missouri was still in pearl harbor docks! The presentation end with an in-depth looks at the huge continuous shot of the sinking ship that take more than a year to finish! And one funny quotes, it will have taken 23 years to render on a single computer!

More informations:
Interview of Grady Cofer for BATTLESHIP (coming soon).

© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2012


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