Now Showing – Cinefex 158

Cinefex 158 - From the Editor's Desk

Pow! Smash! Has there ever been an issue of Cinefex more packed with superheroes than this one? We think not!

So why all the musclepower? The reason is simple – we’re celebrating 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a special anniversary edition of Cinefex. Surrounding our coverage of Black Panther is an exclusive set of in-depth articles that explore the Marvel Studios phenomenon like never before.

Here’s Jody Duncan, Cinefex editor-in-chief, with the lowdown on the highlights of Cinefex 158:

Jody Duncan – From the Editor’s Desk

To borrow from Monty Python’s Flying Circus – And Now for Something Completely Different!

That’s how we feel about our special Marvel Studios 10th Anniversary Issue. Everything about it is different. With the exception of Graham Edwards’ Black Panther story, the articles run far afield of the usual Cinefex fare. The issue includes a long Q&A with Marvel Studios executive producer Victoria Alonso, for example, as well as a virtual ‘roundtable,’ in which visual effects artisans who have worked on the first 18 Marvel Studios films discuss what distinguishes the studio’s approach to epic superhero filmmaking.

Joe Fordham visited the hallowed halls of Marvel’s venerated Vis Dev group to gather commentaries for his art department story. I went through Cinefex’s coverage of the 18 films to assemble a textual ‘highlights reel’ of those films’ visual effects work. A tribute to Stan Lee rounds out the issue.

The issue was ‘different’ for our production team, as well, requiring all new layout templates and an unusual approach to image gathering. For example, the art department story is illustrated with wonderful concept art renderings – something we often wish we could get for our ‘typical’ articles, but rarely do.

All in all, creating this issue has been a lot of fun for us. We hope that it will be fun for you, the reader, as well!

Cinefex 158 is on newsstands now, and available to order at our online store. If you’re a subscriber, your copy is already powering its way to your mailbox. And don’t forget our iPad edition, featuring tons more photographs – many of them exclusive to Cinefex – and stunning video content.

How to Motion Capture a Horse

How to motion capture a horse, courtesty of Animatrik

Motion capture is easy, right? You just put your actors in those funky suits with the bobbles on, record their antics, and use the data to drive your characters.

If only it were so simple. Any motion capture session is merely the start of a long, complex process that relies on skilled animators to adapt and interpret the data, before adding their own creative input. That’s true for human characters, and it’s also true for animals.

Sara Cameron, producer at performance capture and virtual production studio Animatrik, shared her recent experiences capturing the movement of horses for a videogame project currently in development.

Animatrik motion captured horses for a videogame project by mounting over 44 cameras on the walls and in the rafters of a riding stables.

Animatrik motion captured horses for a videogame project by mounting over 44 cameras on the walls and in the rafters of a riding stables.

First and foremost, any large animal needs a correspondingly large amount of space to move around in – and even the most well-trained horse can be unpredictable. Animatrik therefore sourced suitable riding stables in which to stage the action. “A studio just isn’t set up to have horses galloping through it,” commented Cameron.

Before the shoot, Animatrik undertook tests at an indoor riding arena specifically chosen for its low light levels – beneficial for a motion capture system that uses infrared light. The next step involved renting a life-size plastic horse. The team covered its body with retro-reflective markers to ensure the data would accurately reflect bone length, joint change and other specific elements of motion. Since the markers would need to stay in place at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, the team also tracked down a sweat-resistant adhesive made specifically for horses.

The team undertook initial tests using a plastic horse.

The team undertook initial tests using a plastic horse.

“I tested the markers on my Rottweiler and got her to run around the studio,” recalled Cameron. “The tape didn’t bother her, which is important – the animal’s safety and comfort is our first concern. But, as we discovered through shooting, dogs don’t sweat through their skin the way horses do. On the first day, the horses were dripping with sweat and markers kept falling off!”

The solution was to tape up four horses at once. If the markers fell off one horse during a gallop, the others could continue while that animal went back to a motion capture specialist to be recalibrated. As each horse dropped out, another was always available to take its place.

Each horse wore sweat-resistant markers, which were tracked by the motion capture camera array.

Each horse wore sweat-resistant markers, which were tracked by the motion capture camera array.

The final shoot lasted for two full days, during which the crew used Animatrik’s motion capture road kit to track a total of seven horses. For safety reasons, putting cameras on tripods at ground level was not an option. Instead the team mounted cameras on walls and rafters, and positioned themselves above the action on a boom lift.

Complicating the process was the fact that – just like humans – no two horses are the same. Movements that come naturally for certain animals will inevitably cause others to recoil or rear up. Managing choreography for each individual horse across over 200 shots was therefore a significant challenge.

“Going from a standstill straight into a gallop wouldn’t be suitable, or healthy, for some of the horses on set,” Cameron explained. “ I broke up the moves, grouping the shots into skills for each horse. From there, I organized them into a sequence of moves that allowed the horse to go from walking to trotting and more, all with fluidity.”

Successfully concluding the motion capture process was, of course, simply the first step down a much longer path. “The priority for our specialists was to achieve true motion properly scaled to each horse,” said Cameron. “That way, the post production team would have raw size and rotation information, and could decide on an artistic level how to add them into the game engine.”

All photographs courtesy of Animatrik. Special thanks to Georgia Dawson.

Spotlight – Raphael DeAlmeida Pimentel

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Raphael DeAlmeida Pimentel works as an animation supervisor and animation director at Luma. Picking some of his most memorable assignments from a list of over 80 screen credits, he lists No Country For Old Men, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool, Prometheus, Thor: Ragnarok, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther.

Raphael DeAlmeida Pimentel

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Raphael?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: The Goonies was my first ‘wow’ moment at the movies, when I was six, and Jurassic Park was my first ‘wow’ moment with visual effects when I was 14. After watching Jurassic Park, I knew I wanted to work in films and in visual effects in some facet. Also, I have always had a long attention span: if I played with my G.I. Joes, I’d do it all day; if I was using Microsoft Paint on my sister’s Windows 95 machine, I would use it all day. I think this mindset of long concentration moments as a kid has helped me in animation in a lot of ways, since animation and concentration go hand in hand.

When I attended Miami Beach Senior High School, I didn’t write my schedule in the folders, I drew the teachers. Actually, I sat near the back of the classroom and drew most of the time. But I knew when to pay attention and when to goof off. My girlfriend at the time, Emilie, asked me what I was going to do after high school, and mentioned that an art college could be a good option since I was into the arts and film. At the time, I was deciding between film or art school, or the Air Force.

In 2004, after three years and a B.A. at the Miami International University of Art & Design, I began sending my animation demo reel to a few visual effects studios in Los Angeles. Luma was the first one to call me back and setup an interview. I remember walking into Luma and being nervous, especially since I had never worked with films before. As soon as I began showing my portfolio to the CEO, Payam Shohadai – who was also the visual effects supervisor at the time – I started to feel very comfortable. I ended the interview with a very bold, borderline-arrogant statement – I promised Payam that although I had no film experience, if he only gave me a chance to prove myself, I would become his best and fastest animator. I got hired as an animator that afternoon. He kept his end of the bargain and I kept mine. Here we are in 2018, over 80 film credits later and almost 60 of those as animation supervisor at Luma.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: Tapping into the creativity of our animators and watching them become better artists. Creativity is contagious and inspiring for a team, and artists use inspiration as fuel for creativity. Being able to see a team improving and becoming more creative and collaborative through the course of a show is pretty rad.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: Man, I am a crier! Two minutes into Wall-E I was crying. Boogers running down my nose and everything. Crazy.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

Raphael-A-Pimentel-2RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: As an animator, it would be animating 20 pronghorn antelopes across two shots on No Country For Old Men. I created this entire social hierarchy within the herd, where the moms would be closer to the young bucks and does. The males were in the outer region protecting the herd with the exception of the alpha, who was more towards the center and more observant – especially having a 320-degree field of view, which all antelopes have giving the size and placement of their eyeballs. Oddly enough, he is the one that gets shot. It took me two months from block to final. I was working with the Coen Brothers for the first time and wanted to make sure they loved the work.

As a supervisor, it would probably be Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy. He had never been done before in the MCU, with the exception of a quick glimpse after the end credits of The Avengers, where we only see his face. Luma had done dozens of quality characters prior, but being a huge fan of Marvel Comics, the pressure of making Thanos as amazing as possible was more personal. I wanted to do right for the fans. The model, textures – his entire world for that matter – was built from scratch at Luma. We received facial data reference of Josh Brolin performing the dialogue, and I performed the body motion capture for his condescending dialogue with Ronan the Accuser. Our talented animation department took it from there. Fun fact: I animated the last shot in that sequence where Thanos sits back on his throne and breaks into a psychotic grin.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: Weirdest and also the awesomest. On Deadpool, I animated the severing of a goon’s head with a katana sword and then had it kicked it onto another goon, all in one move. Thank you, Tim Miller!

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: For me, the word ‘animation’ barely means what it used to. The stuff we animate today in visual effects is boundless. At Luma, most of our animators are technical artists. Some are also riggers and set up their own controllers in order to speed up their workflow. For example, we animated every single piece of the church bending on Doctor Strange, right? All rigged and setup by animators. It speeds up our workflow and iteration time for our clients, which is paramount. Most Luma animators are also proficient with physics tools, which we use to check gravity and arcs. I am a firm believer in only bending the rules once we understand the rules.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: Visual effects artists being credited properly.

Raphael DeAlmeida Pimentel

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: Moviemaking is a team sport. Most people who are arrogant, or more into themselves than the greater good of a project, tend to not stick around too long. As my mom always said, “Be nice.”

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: I would probably need two different audiences at my mini-festival. Maybe separate adults and kids screenings?

Apocalypse Now – for practical effects. Don’t hold back. Blow your budget in the first 10 minutes with massive explosions! Who cares?

The Goonies and Labyrinth – for special effects. I don’t care how many times I’ve watched them – I have so much respect for on-set animatronics, puppeteering, stop-motion and so on.

Jurassic Park – for visual effects. Hopefully some kid will see a film I worked on and feel the same way I did.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

RAPHAEL A. PIMENTEL: Oh, popcorn! With a little butter and salt. Nothing comes even close!

CINEFEX: Raphael, thanks for your time!

Spotlight – Harrison Ellenshaw

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

With some people, it’s hard to describe their career in brief. That’s certainly true of Harrison Ellenshaw. By turns, he’s worked as a director, visual effects supervisor, associate producer, matte artist, second unit director, title designer, supervisor of film restoration and preservation … the list goes on. As for his screen credit highlights, where to begin? If we just listed Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Tron, Ghost and Dick Tracy, we’d be skipping over The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Black Hole, Honey I Blew Up the Kid and many more. Perhaps we should just get on with the interview.

Harrison Ellenshaw in his studio

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Harrison?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: Truthfully, my first big break was being born into a family of filmmakers and artists! I grew up in England, where my father, Peter Ellenshaw, worked as a matte artist for Walt Disney Productions, MGM and Warner Brothers. When I was eight years old, we moved to Sherman Oaks in California, so my father could continue working for Disney, at the studio in Burbank.

I attended Dixie Canyon Elementary School and then Harvard School for Boys – now Harvard-Westlake – in North Hollywood. After that, I went to Whittier College in Whittier, California; its most (in)famous alum is Richard Milhouse Nixon. I graduated in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

In late 1970, I had just finished a three-year stint as a junior officer in the Navy. I was looking forward to getting back to the ‘real world’ and perhaps enjoying a successful career in advertising or marketing, living in Connecticut in a large house with a big lawn, a rose garden and two well behaved golden retrievers named Goldie and Murphy, and two cats named Fred and Ethel. It was either that, or moving to Australia and managing a self-storage facility in Perth.

Then, I changed my mind. I decided I didn’t want to move, and started looking for a job in L.A. However, although my father and my grandfather, Walter Percy Day, were both visual effects artists, I had no desire to follow in their rather large and intimidating footsteps. I wanted to make a name for myself, on my own.

Soon reality reared its ugly head. The country was in a recession and jobs were hard to find, even for a psychology major. The only work available was in social services or selling life insurance. Not exactly my thing. But I was not about to panic – at least not right away. After a few more months of no job offers and a dwindling number of interviews, I was running low on cash and self esteem.

I started collecting unemployment and watching daytime soap operas. With little hope of meaningful employment, I was bored, depressed and slowly going out of my mind! Even Days of Our Lives and As the World Turns couldn’t raise my flagging spirits. Then, within a couple of months, Alan Maley, head of Disney Studios’ matte department, called and offered me a job as an apprentice matte artist. My take home pay would be $68 a week.

I took the job.

It was pretty obvious that my father had asked Alan, his former assistant, to take pity on me, promising him that I would happily wash brushes and take out the trash in the matte room without complaint. I considered it just a temporary job – certainly not the beginning of a career path I had ever really contemplated.

Nevertheless, Alan became my mentor, teaching me to paint, showing me how to load a VistaVision camera and – most important – how to run a Moviola without scratching the work print. Soon I was immersed in the world of film emulsions, f-stops, edge numbers, bi-packing, separation masters, and the joys of perspective, composition and acrylic paints. I had become seduced by the process of making ‘movie magic.’

I was at Disney less than four years when Alan, unexpectedly, decided to retire and hand over the reins of the matte department to me. The Disney execs were a bit stunned by his sudden decision and started to panic when they realized that Alan’s hand-picked successor had very little real experience in visual effects. But Alan assured them that if I couldn’t do the job, he would come back to run the department again.

I think I did okay, because Alan never came back.

I stayed at Disney for five more years. Working on all their live-action films, I even found time to take on some ‘outside’ projects, including The Man Who Fell to Earth, Star Wars and Big Wednesday.

As Industrial Light & Magic matte department supervisor, Harrison Ellenshaw oversaw the production of some 70 paintings for “The Empire Strikes Back,” working alongside matte painters Michael Pangrazio and Ralph McQuarrie and assistant matte photographer Craig Barron. Ellenshaw produced many of the paintings himself, including this artwork showing Boba Fett’s spaceship Slave One on a Bespin landing platform.

As Industrial Light & Magic matte department supervisor, Harrison Ellenshaw oversaw the production of some 70 paintings for “The Empire Strikes Back,” working alongside matte painters Michael Pangrazio and Ralph McQuarrie and assistant matte photographer Craig Barron. Ellenshaw produced many of the paintings himself, including this artwork showing Boba Fett’s spaceship Slave One on a Bespin landing platform.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: I loved shooting miniatures. I also loved stealing shots – which means guerrilla filmmaking without getting required permits – and playing wiffleball with the effects animators and staff in the parking lot of Olsen Lane & White, the independent effects facility we created from scratch in 1986 to do effects on Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Every new project was a different challenge, and I’ve been very lucky to work with some of the luminaries and legends in the business. Most of all, I’ve been fortunate to work with dozens of talented men and women who always made me look good. That is what really makes me grin!

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: Visiting the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C.

During postproduction on “Tron,” individual 65mm frames of film were enlarged onto 12½x20-inch Kodalith animation cels. By employing a series of reverses and holdout mattes, selected portions of the images were brought to glowing life on an animation stand using back-lighting and color filters.

During postproduction on “Tron,” individual 65mm frames of film were enlarged onto 12½x20-inch Kodalith animation cels. By employing a series of reverses and holdout mattes, selected portions of the images were brought to glowing life on an animation stand using back-lighting and color filters.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

Harrison Ellenshaw (left) and Richard W. Taylor co-supervised special effects for “Tron.”

Harrison Ellenshaw (left) and Richard W. Taylor co-supervised special effects for “Tron.”

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: Three immediately come to mind. The first is Tron – we accomplished something spectacular that had never been done or seen before.

The second was dealing with the infamous Cannon Films and its owners, Menahem Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus, who produced Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Those guys were double DDs – delusional and dysfunctional.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at the documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films. A cautionary tale to be sure.

I once had a meeting with Menahem in his suite at the Dorchester Hotel in London, where he insisted that I had to add dripping blood to the fingernails of Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), Superman’s nemesis in Superman IV  – even though it wasn’t in the script. Menahem had seen a billboard on his way in from Heathrow for an Iron Maiden concert with band members showing off bleeding fingernails. Of course, Menahem had never read the Superman IV script – he bragged that he never bothered reading any scripts! Additionally, he never bothered paying any of his bills either. It took me over a year, with many irate phone calls and the threat of law suit, to finally get my back salary. When I did, sure enough, the check bounced! The positive side about that whole rather unfortunate experience was that I had the opportunity to work with Christopher Reeve. Great guy. A real class act.

But perhaps my biggest challenge came in 1996, when I was trying to hold Buena Vista Visual Effects (BVVE) together as the Disney execs were determined to dismantle it and lay-off 60-plus people. It was an ill-conceived idea, since we were making a profit – something few effects facilities can accomplish – as well bringing in a lot of outside work. Go figure.

At least I was able to delay the shutdown.

Fortunately, BVVE had signed contracts, approved by the Disney legal department, to produce visual effects for two Paramount films – The Phantom and Escape from L.A. – so we could keep the facility going for an additional three or four months past the scheduled shutdown. There’s more information on that in the article Escape from L.A., Hasta La Buena Vista in Cinefex 67.

Through the summer of 1996, BVVE stayed in business – just barely – keeping the wolves away from the door. The higher-ups at Disney were having their own issues including the exit of Jeffrey Katzenberg, the brief tenure of Michael Ovitz and stockholder lawsuits galore – it was a management in deep crisis. My reporting structure kept changing, almost daily. For a brief time, I even reported to the company’s general counsel, a senior lawyer who had no experience trying to understand visual effects or even movies.

After more shuffling, I ended up reporting to the manager of studio operations. A decent guy in charge of the commissary, the gardeners and the transportation department. His day consisted of making sure the paper towel dispensers in the restrooms never ran out of paper towels, and answering a peeved exec’s question about why there was not enough won-ton in the won-ton soup from the commissary. True story – I’m not making this stuff up!

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: The Man Who Fell to Earth, my first non-Disney movie, was pretty weird. In fact, very, very weird. A script that made no sense and a film that made even less sense. I’d fly out every few days to the location in Alamagordo, New Mexico, and there were entire days when the cast and director never showed up on set since they were probably still stoned from the night before!

For “Dick Tracy,” Harrison Ellenshaw joined co-supervisors Michael Lloyd and Steve Rundell at Buena Vista Visual Effects Group, where a team that included matte artists Michele Moen and Paul Lasaine created a total of 55 matte shots.

For “Dick Tracy,” Harrison Ellenshaw joined co-supervisors Michael Lloyd and Steve Rundell at Buena Vista Visual Effects Group, where a team that included matte artists Michele Moen and Paul Lasaine created a total of 55 matte shots.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: The rise in the number of ‘specialists’ needed to create an effects shot – rotoscoper, compositor, color corrector, visual effects coordinator, visual effects supervisor, visual effects producer, visual effects accountant, previs artist, IT person, assistant IT person, assistant to the assistant … and so on. Even the interns now have assistants!

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: Better on-set safety for cast and crew. No shot is ever worth endangering life or limb. We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: Be careful what you wish for. Nevertheless, do what you love and love what you do. Bottom line – the effects business is not going to be what you think it will be. The good news is: it may be better. The bad news is: it can be worse.

Harrison Ellenshaw was special visual effects supervisor on “Captain EO,” a 17-minute 3D film starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, shown at Disney theme parks from 1986-1996.

Harrison Ellenshaw was special visual effects supervisor on “Captain EO,” a 17-minute 3D film starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, shown at Disney theme parks from 1986-1996.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: My four favorites are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Brazil and Top Gun. They are all on my list because the effects in each movie were an integral part of the story. Though, in the case of 2001, I’m not really sure if there was a comprehensive story anywhere in the film.

Two favorite sequences stand out for me, both from 2001. The shuttle docking with the spinning space station, and the Pan Am stewardess plucking Dr. Heywood Floyd’s pen out of mid-air then exiting the rotating cabin.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

HARRISON ELLENSHAW: I don’t take snacks into a movie theater. I go there to watch a movie, not to eat. Besides, Red Vines get stuck in my teeth.

CINEFEX: Harrison, thanks for your time!

Photographs courtesy of Harrison Ellenshaw.

ATROPA: The Series – VFX Q&A

"ATROPA: The Series" - A Cinefex VFX Q&A

In the web serial ATROPA: The Series, off-world detective Cole Freeman (Tony Bonaventura) and the crew of a drifting spaceship face a cosmic mystery that not only redefines their perception of time and space, but also threatens to send them spinning to their doom. A nostalgic throwback to sci-fi films of old, ATROPA: The Series sends its cast of spacefaring characters down grimy ship corridors and confronts them with the dangers of deep space in their perilous quest for universal truth.

ATROPA: The Series began life in 2015, when filmmaker Eli Sasich made a short film — called simply ATROPA — as a pitch for a feature script. Having released the short online, Sasich went through a long development process aimed at bringing the story to the big screen, before ultimately realizing the project as a seven-episode series backed by Vimeo and released through Vivendi’s STUDIO+ platform.

Watch the trailer for ATROPA: The Series:

Cinefex talked to Sasich about the original short in a Q&A on this blog — you can read the article here. Following the release of ATROPA: The Series, we caught up with the writer-director again — joined this time by visual effects supervisor Ryan Wieber — to discuss the project in its finished form.

CINEFEX — Last time we spoke, Eli, you were trying to get ATROPA off the ground as a feature. How far down the road did you get?

ELI SASICH — We got really far. We had Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop involved — I even went out to New Zealand and looked at stage space — but for numerous reasons it didn’t end up going. But, I always remembered that we’d had a great response to the pitch film online, and I’d had such a great experience with the team that made it. So I thought maybe we could cut this feature script into episodes and make it as a web series.

CINEFEX — How did you go about doing that?

ELI SASICH — I wanted to keep the original pilot intact, so I truncated the feature script, made three characters into one, all the things you have to do to simplify. It worked really well — there were natural cliffhangers every 10-15 minutes. We were going to crowdfund it on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Then I got connected with Vimeo, and they said, “No, we’ll just pay for it!” We were thrilled!

In "ATROPA: The Series," created by Eli Sasich, an interstellar detective boards a missing starship moments before it collides with its doppelganger, sparking a chain of events that will call into question the very laws of space and time.

In “ATROPA: The Series,” created by Eli Sasich, an interstellar detective boards a missing starship moments before it collides with its doppelganger, sparking a chain of events that will call into question the very laws of space and time.

CINEFEX — You said that your intention was to leave the original short unchanged. Is that how it turned out?

ELI SASICH — It’s the exact same edit. We just added a planet in the background of the space shots. That was always in the feature script as a big story point, but in the original pitch film we didn’t need it. Our composer Kevin Riepl did an all-new score as well.

CINEFEX — The score throughout the series has an epic feel. Was that something you deliberately set out to achieve?

ELI SASICH — It was. Kevin and I really wanted to have a classic, romanticized orchestral score, because we felt the visuals could handle a really big sound. For the pitch film, we used a lot of Kevin’s score for the game Aliens: Colonial Marines. Obviously, when we turned it into the series, we couldn’t use that. But the gauntlet was already thrown down, so we made the decision to record with a live orchestra.

CINEFEX — You shot the original short at Laurel Canyon Stages in Los Angeles. Did you go back there to make the series?

ELI SASICH — We did and it hadn’t changed, which was really bizarre and kind of exciting. There was a point while we were shooting episode two, Doppelganger, when we re-created a shot of everyone looking out through the spaceship window. It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. It was two years later, and all the same actors were back and most of the same crew, and we were all just kind of looking at each other. It was surreal and wonderful. My assistant director got a little annoyed because we had to stop and take a picture!

CINEFEX — Laurel Canyon has a standing set comprising two spaceship corridors set perpendicular to each other. Did you expand that with additional sets?

ELI SASICH — Yes, but we just kitbashed everything we could find at Laurel Canyon. We took flats and different things they had built for other productions, reconfigured them and set dressed them to make new spaces.

CINEFEX — How did you structure the visual effects department?

RYAN WIEBER — The department was basically me! I had a handful of folks doing a half-dozen shots here, one shot there, just to help fill in the gaps — I was calling in any favors that I had to help get our 333 visual effects shots done. The main CG vendor was The Light Works, led by Tobias Richter — they were responsible for the all-CG exterior shots of the spaceships and they built the Core, our virtual location. I composited the Core shots but they did the comps for their space shots, and then we put on a little spit-shine of our own, like lens flares and grain. We also had over 100 shots with motion graphic display screens, which were designed, animated and composited by Ricardo Elliott II. He was creatively supervised by myself and Eli, but I let him take full ownership of that.

ELI SASICH — The Earth-based sequences in episode four were done by BluFire Studios, the company that I worked with on my short film HENRi. They did flying vehicles and set extensions, and also a robot. It was fun to have them come back and do another robot for me!

Watch a breakdown video showcasing some of the key visual effects shots from ATROPA: The Series:

CINEFEX — Let’s take a closer look at the visual effects, episode by episode. Tell me about this planet that you added to the pitch film, which is now episode one of the series, Pilot.

ELI SASICH — I always knew I wanted a gaseous planet, and I wanted it to be blue — I think I probably got that color from LV-426 in Aliens. Because of a particular story point, we talked a lot about whether it’s actually a planet at all — ultimately that’s up to the viewer. For that reason, we really wanted to keep the surface hidden. Also for story reasons, it had to have a ring.

Sasich made the original short "ATROPA" as a pitch for a feature-length project. Unchanged but for a new music score and enhanced space shots, the short eventually became episode one of a web serial.

Sasich made the original short “ATROPA” as a pitch for a feature-length project. Unchanged but for a new music score and enhanced space shots, the short eventually became episode one of a web serial.

CINEFEX — Since we covered this episode in our earlier interview, let’s skip straight onto episode two, Doppelganger. This is where we first see the Core — the reactor control room of the spaceship ATROPA.

ELI SASICH — We couldn’t build an entire Core room, but we really wanted to have some scope to that environment. So we knew we were getting into a digital set. Our production designer, Alec Contestabile, built an elevated walkway that was maybe 60-70 feet long, with a little control room at the end. The rest was greenscreen.

Cole Freeman (Tony Bonaventura) and Moira Freeman (Jeannie Bolét) meet in the Core. Production designer Alec Contestabile built the walkway and control room, which visual effects expanded using CG set extensions.

Cole Freeman (Tony Bonaventura) and Moira Freeman (Jeannie Bolét) meet in the Core. Production designer Alec Contestabile built the walkway and control room, which visual effects expanded using CG set extensions.

RYAN WIEBER — I had a concept artist, Ian Galvin, explore the general shape of the space — we wanted it to be warm and steamy, kind of like an engine room, somewhere that wouldn’t be comfortable. It was important to me to have some big structural components, and this big drive shaft coming in overhead. We had some recurring elements to sell the scale, like catwalks and little cage lights. We turned that over to Tobias, and he kitbashed and embellished it.

ELI SASICH — I wanted to make sure there were railings. Unlike Star Wars, no-one’s falling over the edge of this!

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CINEFEX — The camera is pretty mobile in some of those Core shots. Was it a big deal tracking your CG environment into the live-action plates?

RYAN WIEBER — I used SynthEyes for all of the 3D tracking that I could do myself, which was everything except the stuff in the Core. Those shots had free moves, with a lot of anamorphic lens distortion and subtle rack focusing, so I outsourced the tracking to Basilic Fly in India. I furnished them with set measurements, and they delivered back a totally rectified world space. I handed that off to Tobias and The Light Works and they built the set around it.

Freeman crosses between spaceships on a ‘mag-tether’ cable, in this shot created by a team at The Light Works, led by visual effects supervisor Tobias Richter.

Freeman crosses between spaceships on a ‘mag-tether’ cable, in this shot created by a team at The Light Works, led by visual effects supervisor Tobias Richter.

CINEFEX — In Doppelganger, there’s a sequence where Cole crosses on a ‘mag-tether’ cable from the ATROPA to her twin ship — which has just mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. How did you put those shots together?

ELI SASICH — I wanted to get as much of our actor in there as possible, so we built a little airlock door and shot a couple of days with Tony on wires in front of a greenscreen. The rest was CG with a digi-double.

CINEFEX — It’s a little reminiscent of the spacewalk between the Alexei Leonov and the Discovery in 2010, both in terms of the staging and the look of the ships.

ELI SASICH — I always wanted this be a homage to those films of the ‘70s and ‘80s. We tried to keep the CG camera moves very deliberate, to fit in with that style and also have continuity with how the rest of the show was shot. In the past, Tobias has done beautiful models of the Star Trek ships, so he’s really got paneling down! We just pushed it even further to really see every nut and bolt and give it that grungy look.

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CINEFEX — The zero-gee action continues when Cole is inside the ATROPA’s sister ship, where the artificial gravity has failed. How did you float your actor through the set?

ELI SASICH — We put him on a parallelogram on a dolly. I was nervous, because there was this giant piece of machinery and these two stunt guys pushing it through those corridors. I kept looking at Ryan and saying, “You’re sure you can erase all this stuff?”

CINEFEX — Did you shoot clean plates to help with crew and rig removal?

RYAN WIEBER — Yeah. We cleared everything out and our director of photography, Greg Cotten, did his best to re-create the shot movement and rack focusing. With a little fudging here and time remapping there, we got all the pieces that we needed. We called them ‘dirty clean plates!’

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CINEFEX — There are lots of props floating around that spaceship interior. Are those CG or practical?

RYAN WIEBER — Some were CG, but I also borrowed a few props and did an element shoot at home on a little turntable, trying to match lighting as best I could. Then, for the shot where Cole grabs the cup, we wanted it to be a real thing there and not have a CG handoff. I built a little multi-axis rotation rig with a magnet on the inside of the cup, and a motor and a stick with a magnet on the end.

Captain McKay (David M. Edelstien), Moira, Cole and Andrew Jensen (Ben Kliewer) study a holographic display that offers clues as to their predicament.

Captain McKay (David M. Edelstien), Moira, Cole and Andrew Jensen (Ben Kliewer) study a holographic display that offers clues as to their predicament.

CINEFEX — In episode three, Time, a holographic display on the bridge explains some of the mysteries behind what’s happened to the ATROPA and its crew. How long did it take to put that sequence together?

RYAN WIEBER — I did it all myself in a week! That was a big piece of trust on Eli’s part, because that scene was laying down some answers to the questions that were set up in the first episode, and also setting up the current predicament. So it was important that it made visual sense. I had ideas in my head but they were very difficult to articulate, so it was just like, “Let me do this, and trust me!”

CINEFEX — How did you create the holograms?

RYAN WIEBER — I did everything in that sequence in After Effects, because I wanted to use a plugin called Plexus which enabled me to do some nice triangulation stuff, with all these dots connecting together.

CINEFEX — Was it then just a case of comping the holograms into the live-action plates?

RYAN WIEBER — Well, the original intention was to build the whole projector box on set and just put the holograms in. Then we realized we needed to throw a lot of light onto the actors, so it ended up essentially just being a big white softbox, which we replaced. I built a CG projector out of prefabricated stuff using Element 3D in After Effects. There are two hero shots with full-frame hologram stuff, and it’s all completely CG — there’s nothing left from the original footage.

Ryan Wieber created the hologram using Adobe After Effects, combining motion graphics with CG set elements in order to integrate the display into the live-action plates. Hologram close-ups were fully digital.

Ryan Wieber created the hologram using Adobe After Effects, combining motion graphics with CG set elements in order to integrate the display into the live-action plates. Hologram close-ups were fully digital.

CINEFEX — Time also includes a blink-and-you-miss-it twinning shot. There’s a camera move that begins with Sanders, played by Chris Voss, lying sedated on a gurney, and ends on his doppelganger on the other side of the medbay. Are you going to reveal where the join is?

ELI SASICH — Maybe! To begin with, we really needed a shot to sell the two of them together. Originally we were going to do a boom up and over to the other bed, but just in terms of the geography of the set it couldn’t work that way. So we worked out a new version that was a much more complicated move, with an old-fashioned wipe in the middle of it.

RYAN WIEBER — Due credit to our actress playing Moira, Jeannie Bolét, who walks by in the shot. She was like a human motion control — she performed that perfectly every time. But she’s a misdirection as far as where you’d think the wipe would be, because when she exits the frame Chris is still over on the right. The seam is actually fully visible in the middle of the frame for a lot of the shot — we just tried to put it where you’re not really looking.

Cole started his mission on board the space station “Valley Forge,” as revealed in episode four of “ATROPA: The Series.” The Light Works fashioned fully digital wide shots of the orbital platform.

Cole started his mission on board the space station “Valley Forge,” as revealed in episode four of “ATROPA: The Series.” The Light Works fashioned fully digital wide shots of the orbital platform.

CINEFEX — Episode four is called Choices. It’s a bit of a change of pace, with nested flashbacks filling in Cole Freeman’s backstory on Earth, and also on a space station called Valley Forge — a little Silent Running reference that sci-fi fans are sure to pick up on.

ELI SASICH — That’s right. It was really important emotionally, and in terms of location, to get out of the ATROPA for a while and learn more about our characters. Having the flashbacks in the dead center of the series seemed like a nice little reprieve. I also got to work with legendary actor Michael Ironside, playing a one-off character for this episode name Captain Schreiber, who runs the space station.

A Valley Forge officer (Amir Malaklou) informs Captain Schreiber (Michael Ironside) that Cole Freeman has departed on his mission. Alec Contestabile built space station interiors by reconfiguring existing set pieces at Laurel Canyon Stages.

A Valley Forge officer (Amir Malaklou) informs Captain Schreiber (Michael Ironside) that Cole Freeman has departed on his mission. Alec Contestabile built space station interiors by reconfiguring existing set pieces at Laurel Canyon Stages.

CINEFEX — The space station looks like quite a big CG build.

ELI SASICH — That was a kitbash that Tobias did. I gave him reference of a ring-shape, and that’s what he came back with. For the hangar, I purchased a model from a guy on one of those online concept art forums, and Tobias tweaked it and put it into his Valley Forge model. That happened a lot — we’d find stuff and I’d contact the artist, because we just didn’t have time to build everything from scratch.

For shots of Cole undertaking an investigation on Earth, BluFire Studios added CG extensions to live-action plates shot on location in Los Angeles.

For shots of Cole undertaking an investigation on Earth, BluFire Studios added CG extensions to live-action plates shot on location in Los Angeles.

CINEFEX — Where did you shoot the Earth scenes?

ELI SASICH — Those were all shot in downtown Los Angeles, a few months after the main shoot. The diner was the Nickel Diner — they were very gracious to let us shoot in there for one day. BluFire added flying cars, and did a shot where we tilt down from all the overhead stuff to street level. The idea was to have a bit of a Blade Runner feel, but in broad daylight. We didn’t want to be too over the top. It’s like, “Okay, there’s flying traffic, let’s move on.”

CINEFEX — At one point, we see Cole interrogating a robot.

ELI SASICH — Actually, I rewrote the episode to add the robot sequence. Everyone thought I was crazy, because we were already deep into our effects stuff, but I really felt strongly that we needed it for world-building. BluFire stepped in with an off-the-shelf robot model that they tweaked a little bit. We had an actor do all the lines and movements, and BluFire matched that performance and added their robot to clean plates.

BluFire Studios animated a CG robot and composited it into plates shot in a Los Angeles diner kitchen.

BluFire Studios animated a CG robot and composited it into plates shot in a Los Angeles diner kitchen.

CINEFEX — Episode five, Ring, ends with a dramatic reveal that kind of tips the story on its head.

ELI SASICH — Yeah. Really, the entire story was originally developed around that reveal. When I came up with it I knew that this was one of those ‘Oh, shit!’ moments. We were really excited to try to pull that off.

CINEFEX — Without giving too much away, it revolves around a discovery made by Jensen, played by Ben Kliewer, during a trip in an escape pod. Did you build a practical pod exterior?

ELI SASICH — Yes, Alec Contestabile and his team built a little escape pod. We did a really big pull-back with a boom arm on a dolly, and then at some point there’s a handoff to a CG pod that Tobias built. We went back and forth a few times on that camera move — we wanted to go far enough to where you understand what you’re seeing, but still have the planetary ring disappear on both sides, as if it’s so big that you can’t get it in the frame.

The crew of the ATROPA ultimately discovers that their fates are inextricably linked to the nearby planet and its mysterious ring system.

The crew of the ATROPA ultimately discover that their fates are inextricably linked to the nearby planet and its mysterious ring system.

CINEFEX — Episode six, Fate, is largely confined to the interior of the ATROPA. Was it tough making that small Laurel Canyon set look like multiple locations within the ship?

ELI SASICH — It was, and I’m super proud that the guys pulled it off — although, if you’re really savvy, you can spot where we are at all times. We really had just two corridors, so making that look like a whole spaceship was all about lighting, and changing up paint and colors. We also did a couple of hallway extensions using greenscreens to fool the audience and make them believe it’s a bigger space.

RYAN WIEBER — The giveaway is any time the hallway goes back farther than 30 feet. One example is a shot that opens on Moira in a CG hallway, and then you come around and you land into the physical set. It’s effective because you start thinking that you’re somewhere real, and then you actually end up somewhere real, and you didn’t spot where it changed. Seth Donald did those shots — he took photography of the set and built it out in 3D space in After Effects.

Cole is forced to make an impossible choice in the explosive climax to “ATROPA: The Series.”

Cole is forced to make an impossible choice in the explosive climax to “ATROPA: The Series.”

CINEFEX — ATROPA: The Series concludes with episode seven, Checkmate, which includes some grandiose explosions that play out in slow motion — another shift in tone and pace.

ELI SASICH — We really wanted the ending to have a poetic feel. Going with slow motion and using the song was an important part of that. Instead of being violent, it’s beautiful and sad.

CINEFEX — There’s also a dynamic shot of Cole’s ship, Morinda, where the camera starts close on the cockpit, then pulls back and around. It echoes a similar shot seen in the first episode — was that deliberate?

ELI SASICH — When we did that first pullback for the original short, we didn’t have the room to do it on the stage because of the way things were configured. So Tobias faked the move by putting Cole on a card and comping him into the cockpit. I said, “If we ever go back, I’m going to actually move that damn camera!” This time, we were able to dolly the camera away. All the perspective worked and I was really happy about that — it really sells that handoff to the full CG ship.

Visual effects blended live-action of the Morinda’s cockpit with a CG spacecraft exterior, in a sweeping pullback shot.

Visual effects blended live-action of the Morinda’s cockpit with a CG spacecraft exterior, in a sweeping pullback shot.

CINEFEX — How would you sum up the role of visual effects in the series as a whole? Does spectacle or subtlety win the day, or is it all about balance?

ELI SASICH — If you call too much attention to the visual effects, it has the opposite effect of what you want. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. There were moments where we could blow it open a little bit, and there were moments where we definitely wanted to keep it within the overall scale and scope of the project. It’s all about restraint.

Watch a montage of motion graphics shots created by Ricardo Elliott II for ATROPA: The Series:

CINEFEX — Now that ATROPA: The Series is finished, does the end result match your original ambitions for the project?

ELI SASICH — It does. It’s been an amazing journey. It was fun to tell a short-form story that’s really no different than the cliffhanger serials from the ‘30s, taking what was originally going to be a feature and then finally telling it as a web series — which is kind of like being in the Wild West. Of course, there’s always things you would do differently, but we’re really proud of what we were able to do, and I’m happy to have finally told this story. I’m very excited to have it out there.

CINEFEX — Eli and Ryan, thanks for talking to us!


“ATROPA: The Series” photographs and video copyright © Corridor Productions 2018.

Spotlight – Karl Herbst

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Karl Herbst is a visual effects supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks. His roles have also included modeler, look development artist, lighting supervisor, CG supervisor and digital effects supervisor, and he lists his career highlights as Surf’s Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania 1 & 2 and Edge of Tomorrow. He is currently in production on Smallfoot.

Karl Herbst

CINEFEX: Karl, how did you get started in the business?

KARL HERBST: It was all by chance. I was an architecture major at Clemson University when a virtual reality project was getting started in the computer science department. They needed some modelers and I started helping them out. Next thing I knew, I was spending more time there than in the architecture building. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Jurassic Park both got me interested in film – Nightmare from the idea that I could design and build sets, and Jurassic for showing me what was possible in the computer.

My big break came when I bought a T-shirt from Rhythm & Hues. The woman who filled the order saw the URL of the work I was doing at Clemson and gave it to the modeling manager. Keith Hunter, who headed up modeling at Rhythm & Hues at that time, contacted me and asked me to model a motorcycle that he took a picture of in the parking lot. The rest is history.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

KARL HERBST: Finishing! Along the way to that point, there are all those great moments of being confronted with problems to solve and working with great teams to solve them. Especially on the full CG features, there is just so much to design, so many tools to be built, so many methodologies to come up with – every day is an adventure. The moments in rounds and client reviews where we come up with ideas on how to make each shot just that much better, from the smallest thing to the largest, makes my job the best.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

KARL HERBST: Constant changes. There is nothing like spending months coming up with how to solve something, getting all of the wheels in motion, pushing on all of the people involved to meet a deadline or improve the look of something, to just have it all end up on the cutting room floor.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

KARL HERBST: Each show comes with its challenges, but I think the hardest was doing a face replacement for a skating film many years ago. Everything we tried in that era of technology just did not work. The visual effects supervisor on that show pulled me on late and I was trying to remodel the face, work on the shading and the tracking all at once and we just did not have the tools to do it. In the end, we mixed parts of renders, parts of 2D elements and crossed our fingers the client would be happy. They weren’t, but it was the best we could do at the time. All of the tests we tried during that film proved to me that humans are the best facial recognition systems and it’s really hard to fool us.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

KARL HERBST: I can’t say I have had what I would call a weird one, but I can say that there have been times where I could feel myself losing more hair! On Men in Black II, we came on late to add the final shot in the film. It was Grand Central Station for aliens, and we created all the creatures and the environment at a record pace. On the final night, with the visual effects supervisor sitting over my shoulder making composite tweaks, the new RAID system at the studio failed – in the middle of a tweak, the comp update just stopped mid-frame. After many phone calls, we waited for hours to have a new disk brought in. Luckily, the system worked as advertised and once the disk was installed all of the data was recovered and the frame stuck on my monitor, finished. I looked at the supe and said, “What next?” “Send it to filmout,” was the immediate response.

Karl Kerbst worked on the closing shot of "Men in Black II," created by Rhythm & Hues as a continuous pullback in which our entire world is shown to be contained within a single locker at an alien version of Grand Central Station.

Karl Kerbst worked on the closing shot of “Men in Black II,” created by Rhythm & Hues as a continuous pullback in which our entire world is shown to be contained within a single locker at an alien version of Grand Central Station.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

KARL HERBST: The remoteness of everything. It used to be that all of us involved with a film could sit in a room and do a whiteboard session to solve an issue. Or, while reviewing work, everyone felt free to bring up ideas and address issues on the fly. Now, the client is in one location, the artists are in another and I sit in a room almost by myself just giving notes. It takes a lot more effort to get everyone to contribute their ideas since it’s like a CB radio and everyone needs to feel okay with interrupting someone else to get their idea on the table.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

KARL HERBST: I would really like to see films at a point where we are not trying to “find it” in the middle or at the end. With all of the time spent in pre-production these days, it still feels like we are trying to squeeze all of the work into the smallest amount of time – which kills creativity. On the technology front, there are some interesting things happening with real-time rendering that could really improve workflows in all departments along the production pipeline.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

KARL HERBST: Do this because you love it. Don’t go into it thinking you’re going to make a ton of money or that you’re going to be making ‘your art.’ Do this because you love the challenges and being part of a team that creates great movie moments. While in school and in your first years in the business, learn as much as you can about the whole pipeline, not just a specialty area.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

KARL HERBST: Man, this one is hard! I’m all over the place here since I work more on animated features versus visual effects films. Star Wars – since it’s the first visual effects film I remember as a kid. The ‘Indiana Jones’ movies for the great mix of practical sets and matte paintings. The Lion King – for being the rebirth of great Disney animated films. Jurassic Park – for just breaking so much ground in digital effects. The Nightmare Before Christmas – for all of the amazing sets and characters. A power hour of ‘Looney Tunes’ shorts for just all of the great shapes and performances. I could keep going!

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

KARL HERBST: Peanut M&Ms.

CINEFEX: Thanks for your time, Karl!

Spotlight – Rosa Behrens Camp

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Rosa Behrens Camp works at Sony Pictures Imageworks as production services and resources tools developer. Her career highlights include Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Amazing Spider-Man and Storks.

Rosa Behrens CampCINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Rosa?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: After spending 11 years as a software developer in the defense industry, I wanted a change. My husband, who works as a creature effects artist, told me about an entry-level position at Sony Pictures Imageworks that could utilize my skillset and also allow me to explore options in the industry. I became a production services technician, which encompasses being a render farm wrangler, dealing with data management, client/vendor ingests and deliveries, production requests and artist support. It was a great way to dive into the various pipelines involved in making visual effects and animated movies, but with a more technical emphasis. After a couple years in this role, a position opened up to move into a more software development-oriented role in the department.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: I definitely enjoy the team camaraderie we have in our department –the laid-back environment is a lot more comfortable than my previous job and we have a lot of fun working together. It’s also nice to be able to exercise a bit more creativity, and have more freedom and flexibility in design and implementation of the various tools we build.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: A lot of times – because we are behind the scenes – we tend to be forgotten. I think a lot of the artists and production staff don’t realize how much support we give the show-specific members of our department. So, when we see the credits roll by and our team is completely left out, it’s like a tiny little dagger in my soul.

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: Currently, I’m working on designing and implementing a tool that will automate archiving all the necessary data for re-creating a finaled shot. It’s pretty elaborate, and it’s crucial that all the components work as expected. If something doesn’t go right and data is lost, that’s time and money lost as well.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: I don’t really have a ‘weird’ task that stands out in my mind, but I know that our department has had to bring some interesting reference images and videos online, including a huge chunk of monkey butt pictures. I think a disk volume filled up because of those butts!

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: Being on the tech side of things, and having only been in the industry for six years, I haven’t noticed huge changes. But I know a lot has changed for artists and on the corporate and business levels. Production schedules are becoming shorter and more demanding, and it feels like it’s becoming more brutal trying to win work for the visual effects houses, especially since studios have changed how they hand out shot work. When I first started, we’d have pretty much the entire movie awarded but now it’s just a few sequences split across multiple studios. This, along with the grueling schedules, ends up putting a lot more stress on everyone. Less room for mistakes, less time to address any bugs or issues in the tools used.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: Maybe more emphasis on work-life balance. Since we’re not artists or production, we have a little bit more leeway regarding working normal hours – at least we do at SPI – but I know a lot of people on the show side who suffer the ill-effects of a demanding schedule. While making movies has never been an easy job or one that fits a nine-to-six schedule, it feels like the hours are getting longer and harder, and there’s less happening to counter that.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: Don’t be a jerk. It’s a small industry so you never know who around you will end up becoming your future lead or supervisor at a different studio. Just treat your co-workers with civility and respect.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: Avatar – the sheer amount of work and detail that went into creating the environments and models, the advancement of mocap technology, all of the visual effects – it was just amazing to me. I’m a huge sci-fi fan, so seeing an alien world brought to life on the big screen and looking photoreal was a real treat. Probably one of my favorite shots was the first time you saw the floating rocks.

Tron is a classic. I was only two when it came out, so I didn’t see it until a few years later. But that movie is a great starting point to show just how far CG has come.

Jurassic Park – because dinosaurs! That movie was a staple of my childhood, and I must have watched it hundreds of times since it was released. The visual effects still hold up in most places, too. And that movie is a good blend of both CG and practical. I think sometimes people get over-enthusiastic trying to do everything with CG and forget that practical effects can still be just as good-looking on screen.

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

ROSE BEHRENS CAMP: Almond M&Ms! Or maybe Peanut M&MS …

CINEFEX: Rosa, thanks for your time!

Secret Cinema – A New Life Awaits You

Deckard's spinner comes in to land at the LAPD headquarters in "Blade Runner."

Editor’s note: Secret Cinema builds immersive experiences around classic motion pictures, staged at secret urban locations. The following report comes from our London correspondent, Andy Wicks, who recently attended Secret Cinema presents Blade Runner: The Final Cut – A Secret Live Experience. Please be aware that minor spoilers lie ahead. Have a better one.

We met at the top of the escalators in Canning Town Tube Station, London. Two of us had experienced something like this before, while the third was a newbie. We were all excited and slightly apprehensive. My pockets contained some old cassette tapes and photos – my  precious photos. Chris had some seeds and Stephen wore gloves. Why had we brought them? Would we need them for what lay ahead?

All around us, bemused commuters mingled with strangely-garbed people from a dystopian future. There seemed to be two distinct tribes, defined by their clothing and accessories: industrial goggles, masks and transparent plastic coats versus veiled pillbox hats, glamorous makeup and sharp suits. We were part of the former tribe. As we followed the crowd, our surroundings faded into somewhere – somewhen – else  …

Andy Wicks suits up and prepares to enter the future world of "Blade Runner: The Final Cut – A Secret Live Experience," presented by Secret Cinema.

Andy Wicks suits up and prepares to enter the future world of “Blade Runner: The Final Cut – A Secret Live Experience,” presented by Secret Cinema.

“Does anyone have any injuries? Any chicken-heads here?”

The woman asking the questions looked like she could use a bath and some basic first aid for the welts on her face. She was dressed in grubby overalls and sheltered by a torn plastic sheet. I was in the crowd gathered around her, behind a makeshift wire mesh barricade. We were dressed alike – street scum, scavengers – harassed by the cops and looked down upon by the smartly dressed VIPs walking past. We leaned in closer.

“I’m an ant-head,” I said, which seemed to throw her. “Like a chicken-head, only worse.” She nodded like she knew what I meant. Stephen and I exchanged glances. This was close to the source material.

“Are you ready for action?” barked her colleague-in-filth, leading us to the barricade. “Make some noise!” We banged the fence and shouted. The cops turned and rushed us but our scavenger friends got away in the confusion. They’d made it!

“Well done, guys! You helped them get in. You’ll be next!” said our guide, before welcoming more scavengers into our area.

In Secret Cinema's "Blade Runner: The Final Cut – A Secret Live Experience," visitors spend the evening inhabiting Los Angeles, 2019, before experiencing an enhanced screening of the film. Photograph by Luke Dyson lukedyson.photography

In Secret Cinema’s “Blade Runner: The Final Cut – A Secret Live Experience,” visitors spend the evening inhabiting Los Angeles, 2019, before experiencing an enhanced screening of the film. Photograph by Luke Dyson, courtesy of Secret Cinema.

What the hell was going on? Reality had shifted. We had fallen through a crack in time. London, 2018, had gone, replaced by Los Angeles, 2019. We were entering the world of replicants, artificial owls, spinners and Blade Runners. If you’re a regular reader of Cinefex, then there’s a good chance you know what I mean.

The first thing we did was get a drink. Beers and gin. The street vendor was friendly and we were left alone – as long as we steered clear of the cops lurking in dark corners. And so we wandered through the bustling crowds. The setting was pretty authentic: a mix of the ‘noodle bar’ scene at the start of Blade Runner, and the later hunt for Zhora. Think darkness, street food, bicycles, giant neon billboards. For the next hour we explored, sampling the atmosphere, checking out the food. We could see different groups taking part in various stories. We even got caught up in one or two ourselves. Great fun, and some authentic empathy with both the film and the original novel.

Oh, we saw things you people wouldn’t believe. We drank at Taffy’s bar. We bumped into Leon and asked him about his mother. I saw Pris pushing through the crowd and she smiled at me. Hannibal Chew showed us his eyes, but didn’t know answers. The atmosphere was ramping up, something was coming …

Secret Cinema stages its immersive experiences at secret urban locations. Photograph by Camilla Green, courtesy of Secret Cinema.

Secret Cinema stages immersive cinema experiences at secret urban locations. Photograph by Camilla Green, courtesy of Secret Cinema.

When the film started, a cheer rippled through the audience.

Even though I’d seen Blade Runner numerous times before, this viewing was different. Enhanced. Subtle touches of practical lighting and live-action performance brought more life to the story. And the memory implants arising from the evening itself subtly changed the experience.

As the end credits rolled, we returned into the re-creation of Los Angeles, 2019. I had a huge grin on my face, as did most of those around me. Our newbie, Stephen, agreed with me that the evening worked best when it replicated the source material – film and novel. Some of the story elements fitted well, others not so much. He found some of the police oppression, well, oppressive, and some of the American accents were questionable.

Chris too enjoyed the experience, although she would have liked a clearer idea of how to get a bit of interaction going with the actors, and how, when and where we might have used our props. In the weeks leading up to the event, the Secret Cinema website had encouraged us to bring items like cassettes, photos and seeds, which we would be able to exchange for ‘experiences.’ As it turned out, we didn’t get to use them – maybe we just didn’t open the right door. Chris was disappointed at not getting into the LAPD office – something to do with our ticket level, perhaps, or else the actors were having a break.

Quibbles aside, the actors acquitted themselves admirably and blended in with the costumed punters seamlessly. The website’s advice on costume ideas – gloves, masks, raingear – was spot on. Food and drink options were varied, interesting and high quality – I was pleasantly surprised by the tasty vegan burger. And we all enjoyed the illicit hooch from the dodgy street vendor!

Photograph by Luke Dyson and courtesy of Secret Cinema.

Photograph by Luke Dyson and courtesy of Secret Cinema.

Walking back to Canning Town Tube Station with the other lowlifes and VIPs, I sensed the reality of London, 2018, seeping back into my psyche. I could feel the memories of the evening embedding themselves into my consciousness, and I knew that these moments would remain with me, unlike tears in the rain.

“Blade Runner” image copyright © 1982 by The Ladd Company. “Blade Runner” and all related characters and elements © and TM Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2018 Alcon Entertainment. LLC. All rights reserved.

Spotlight – Scott Stokdyk

To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.

Scott Stokdyk’s career as a visual effects supervisor embraces films including Hollow Man, all three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, G-Force, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk strikes a pose on the set of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets."

Visual effects supervisor Scott Stokdyk strikes a pose on the set of “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Scott?

SCOTT STOKDYK: I had always been a fan of effects work, but seeing early 90’s computer graphics working its way into visual effects gave me a notion that it was something that I could participate in. My big break was when I first got access to SGI workstations running Side Effects Prisms software. That happened while I was doing programming work on a digital ink-and-paint software system at a small visual effects company called Motionworks.

CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?

SCOTT STOKDYK: The most exciting part of my job is the moment when I’m loading up a sequence of images that I haven’t seen before to review. It still feels like a Christmas present for me, with all the possibilities contained within. I’m a big fan and appreciator of visual effects as well as having it be my job.

CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?

SCOTT STOKDYK: Computer and networking crashes. We manage around it better now, but we still depend so much on the tech problems not getting in our way!

CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?

SCOTT STOKDYK: Working on the ‘birth of Sandman’ shot in Spider-Man 3 is probably at the top of my list – so many moving parts, both literally and figuratively. I think that if we tried it again 10-plus years on it would still be excruciatingly hard. Any sequence I deal with now that combines character and effects animation is something I give special attention to, because I know the inherent problems.

CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?

SCOTT STOKDYK: Hollow Man was unique in so many ways. It was so ambitious in terms of what was trying to be done – all this amazing tech and artistry to do an invisibility transformation in an anatomically accurate way. The amount of artist and scientist brain power to make those pixels was absurd!

John Frazier, Anthony LaMolinare, Scott Stokdyk, and John Dykstra. Academy Award winners for Achievement in Visual Effects their work on "Spider-Man 2" at the 77th Academy Awards. Photograph copyright © AMPAS.

Left to right, John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier celebrate winning the Achievement in Visual Effects Oscar for their work on “Spider-Man 2” at the 77th Academy Awards. Photograph copyright © AMPAS.

CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?

SCOTT STOKDYK: The growing collective experience of visual effects artists keeps making images better and better. Yet, it is very hard to impress anyone with visual effects imagery anymore. It takes a very interesting story context nowadays to really shock people.

CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?

SCOTT STOKDYK: More discussion on the art and design of visual effects is needed. Marketing and press is still so focused primarily on tech innovation, but our industry has now gotten more mature as a craft, so the artistic contributions are most relevant.

CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?

SCOTT STOKDYK: There is still no single best path to getting a job in visual effects. Above all, you have to really love what you do to put up with all the hours. Find a niche that you don’t mind spending thousands of hours living with.

CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?

SCOTT STOKDYK: Blade Runner, The Matrix and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I would want to watch them all together with fresh eyes, and try to figure out why I love the visual effects in these movies so much, how does the visual storytelling draw me in, and do they still hold up and feel as amazing as the first memorable time I saw them? I still recall vividly where I was when I first saw these movies – that’s how much they imprinted on my brain!

CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?

SCOTT STOKDYK: Popcorn! It best fills out the other senses – taste, feel, smell – besides sight and sound to help round out the cinematic experience!

CINEFEX: Scott, thanks for your time!

Who’s Your Favorite Marvel Studios Character?

Cinefex Marvel Studios coversOur April 2018 edition, Cinefex 158, is a special issue celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Marvel Studios and, oh boy, did we cover some ground putting it together. For example, while researching our article The Marvel Effect – an epic roundtable discussion covering every Marvel Studios film from Iron Man to Black Panther – we conducted over 60 interviews with effects professionals from all corners of the globe.

You can read the article in its entirety in Cinefex 158, together with in-depth coverage of Black Panther, a visit to the Marvel Studios in-house art department, an exclusive Q&A session with Marvel Studios executive producer and head of physical production Victoria Alonso, and much more.

In the meantime, here’s a little something to whet your appetite. At the end of each of our roundtable interviews, we closed on a light-hearted note, asking our interviewees that most revealing of questions:

“If you could be any Marvel Studios character, who would it be and why?”

So how did our effects experts respond? Here are their answers, alphabetized by character name (including a couple that aren’t strictly speaking part of the MCU, but hey, we’re nothing if not inclusive). Is your favorite in there?


Agent Coulson

“I’d be someone ordinary just going about their day, seeing the occasional wacky things.”
Jason Bath, executive producer, Animal Logic

Cinefex 143 Ant-ManAnt-Man

“All the Marvel characters are pretty tortured – Stan Lee never gave any of them superpowers without also giving them an emotional Achilles heel. But I spent so long designing the effects on Ant-Man that I’d love to see the world from that perspective. Maybe with the Ant-Man suit I can avoid the emotional torture and still have cool adventures!”
Jake Morrison, production VFX supervisor, Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man, Thor: Ragnarok

“I’m always looking for new perspectives, even from a microscopic level.”
Alexander Schumann, animation supervisor, Rise

“I just really like Ant-Man’s laid-back style.”
Michael Wortmann, VFX supervisor, Trixter

“He has relatable flaws and a sense of humor.”
Brian Meanley, CG supervisor, Whiskytree

Black Widow

“Black Widow is a very strong woman who is an expert in martial arts and can take on anybody – and  it’s pretty cool that she used to be a spy!
Artemis Oikonomopoulou, DFX Supervisor, Double Negative

Cinefex 127 Captain America: The First AvengerCaptain America

“He’s steadfast and loyal, only acts after trying to obtain all relevant information and he always tries to keep the peace wherever possible – many of the same attributes I find needed in animation supervision, as it happens.”
Stephen Enticott, head of animation, Double Negative

“He is a very clear thinker, and a natural leader, and stands for justice!”
Immanuel Morris, VFX Supervisor, Exceptional Minds

“Because he likes to do the right thing.”
Faraz Hameed, previs and postvis supervisor, The Third Floor

Cinefex 150 Doctor StrangeDoctor Strange

“I like his magic abilities and his ability to travel between dimensions. Plus, I have learned to look beyond what is regarded as the status quo to find hope in the most unlikely places. As Doctor Strange would say: ‘Forget everything that you think you know.’”
Susan Zwerman, Studio Executive Producer, Exceptional Minds

“I always wanted a flying carpet – or in this case a cloak of levitation. The Eye of Agamotto to go back in time is not bad as well!”
Alexis Wajsbrot, VFX supervisor, Framestore

“I love the idea of Eastern mythology as part of my superpower. I am a Buddhist practitioner and avid meditator – and have been known to be a little cynical as well!”
Robert Andrew David Frick, CG supervisor, Digital Domain

“Being a parent of two young children, I like the idea of tidying up the mess by reversing time.”
Richard Bluff, VFX supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic

“He’s a full-on wizard who can travel across space and time and has almost limitless powers. I promise to only use my powers for good, though, like ending terrorism or making sure the Chicken Dance is never invented.”
Shannon Justison, previs and postvis supervisor, The Third Floor

“That ‘70s psychedelic retro stamp feels familiar to me!”
Alessandro Cioffi, VFX supervisor, Trixter

Groot

“I’m tall like a tree and I only say a couple of things that actually make sense.”
Aaron Sims, concept artist and founder, Aaron Sims Creative

“Maybe I would be Baby Groot, because he reminds me my nephew. We would make an excellent duo!”
Harry Bardak, CG supervisor, Framestore

“Despite all the chaos, I always remain calm and I’ve always got my team’s back. Not to mention, I’m a man of few words.”
Dave Morley, VFX supervisor, Image Engine

“I don’t talk much but I get stuff done.”
Rene Grasser, VFX producer, Rise

Hawkeye

“Every time I want to get out, they pull me back in.”
Harry Lam, VFX supervisor, Base FX

“I’d like be Wolverine because he’s angry and gritty – nothing like me. Realistically, I’d be Hawkeye because he seems like a regular guy.”
JP Monroy, art director, Whiskytree

Cinefex 130 The AvengersHulk

“I don’t get angry … but sometimes I wish I could!”
Peter Bebb, VFX supervisor, Double Negative

“I think we would all feel better if, when we got mad, we could just jump and smash stuff, with no consequence, and then stroll back to work as Bruce Banner: ‘Oh, I’m sorry, this always happens when my renders fail!”
Robin Hackl, VFX supervisor, Image Engine

“Because of my calm demeanor!!!”
Michael Perdew, VFX producer, Luma

“Growing up in the ‘70s, I became a huge fan of Marvel Comics and the live-action Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, at the same time. Each fed the other – the more I watched the show, the more I collected Hulk issues, magazines, memorabilia, toys, shirts, Pez dispensers—you name it. My dog is even named Bixby!”
Jeremy Lasky, partner and co-founder, Perception

“I like to tear off my clothes when something doesn’t work.”
Andreas Giesen, FX supervisor, Rise

“He’s just an awesome character and very, very different from all the rest.”
Jonathan Weber, VFX supervisor, Rise

“I’m a little bit nerdy and sciencey, overweight … and can have a temper when pushed too far.”
Berj Bannayan, VFX supervisor, Soho VFX

Iron Fist

“My hands are deadly.”
Kenneth Au, VFX Supervisor, Exceptional Minds

Cinefex 114 Iron ManIron Man

“He’s flawed but ultimately has the best intentions, even if reluctantly. He uses his smarts (and his money) to solve problems, and come on – no one does a more heroic three point landing than Iron Man!”
Christopher Townsend, production VFX supervisor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and Captain Marvel

“The suit would really help cut down my daily commute.”
Stuart Penn, VFX supervisor, Framestore

“Billionaire! Playboy! Badass!”
Alan Torres, VFX and design supervisor, Cantina Creative

“I’m not a fan of “super-powers” in themselves – they’re all too magical – but Tony Stark is an inventor who creates his powers through technology.  Plus he’s immensely rich, smart and charming, and has the great houses and playboy lifestyle. And he’s a smartass who gets to wisecrack all the time.  Who wouldn’t want to be him?!”
Ben Snow, VFX supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic

“Because he has all the cool toys!”
Katherine Roberts, head of pipeline, Double Negative

“If he can party, so can I.”
Eli Katz, VFX artist, Exceptional Minds

“Because of his super-cool gadgets and technology.”
Thanapoom Siripopungul, character TD supervisor, Luma

“I have always liked gadgets and robots. Iron Man is also a less “magical” character, so a bit more grounded and easier to identify with.”
Olivier Dumont, VFX supervisor, Method Studios

“Who wouldn’t want to be a brilliant scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur? Plus, having access to a team of Iron Man suits would really help getting these features out the door!”
Madalynn Sadeghian, stereo producer, Stereo D

“Iron Man has been my favorite from childhood – I drew an Iron Man comic when I was eight! My adult connection to Iron Man was having to get a pacemaker around the time the first movie came out. Tony with his Arc Reactor looked a lot like me with my new hardware.  We’re both part-man, part-machine!”
James Baker, previs and postvis supervisor, The Third Floor

“Engineering and developing gadgets comes closest to my character of finding solutions in a technical way.”
Patrick Hecht, CG supervisor and environment lead, Trixter

“It would have to be Tony Stark all the way. How much fun would that be?!!”
Jonathan Harb, CEO and executive producer, Whiskytree

“He’s rich and kicks ass!”
Michael Kennen, digital artist and compositor, Whiskytree

Jarvis

“He has a head-start on us … but we’re all gonna get there someday.”
Tim LeDoux, owner and VFX supervisor, Crafty Apes

Loki

“I would want to be Loki. I have no explanation.”
Kevin Souls, VFX supervisor, Luma

Mysterio

“Maybe it’s strange that I would pick a villain, but Mysterio’s look, and his ability to create special effects and illusions, make him one of my favorite characters.”
Jason Smith, VFX supervisor, Industrial Light & Magic

The Phantom

“Technically, the Phantom has no superpowers but relies on his creative intelligence and reputed immortality to defeat his foes. The only skills you need as a VFX supervisor!”
Paul Butterworth, VFX supervisor, Animal Logic

Red Skull

“I could vary my commute to work between a VTOL rocket powered aircraft (based on a Focke-Wulf Triebflügel) and a six wheeled V12 Mercedes coupe.”
Charlie Noble, VFX Supervisor, Double Negative

Cinefex 153 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Rocket Raccoon

“Because he’s an angry little trash panda in space!”
Venti Hristova, VFX supervisor, Cantina Creative

“I’d like to be Rocket, rudely commenting on everything I see on other artist’s screens.”
Oliver Hohn, compositing supervisor, Rise

“He is cheeky, blunt and rude. But he is loyal, has a big heart and a great sense of humor.”
Yukio Satoh, head of technology, Trixter

“He’s a character full of contrast – not always nice, but he has a good heart and is really skillful with all the gadgets that he’s created.”
Simone Kraus, animation supervisor, Trixter

“I really would love to be able to live a life without any verbal filters.”
Guy Williams, VFX supervisor, Weta Digital

Silver Surfer

“Silver Surfer, hands down! He can fly, is almost indestructible, and surfs through the cosmos! How awesome is that? He can go anywhere and look cool doing it.”
Nordin Rahhali, VFX supervisor, Method Studios

Cinefex 154 Spider-Man: HomecomingSpider-Man

“Spider-Man was the first comic book I remember reading.”
Stephen Lawes, creative director, Cantina Creative

“I would want to be Peter Parker simply for who he is as a person.”
Mason Taylor, VFX artist, Exceptional Minds

“Because I want to do what a spider can!”
Patrick Brady, VFX artist, Exceptional Minds

“He’s a great role model when it comes to independence and never giving up.”
Tony Saturno, VFX artist, Exceptional Minds

“Because I’m never in one place for more than three seconds.”
Florian Gellinger, VFX supervisor and executive producer, Rise

“He’s got fun powers, a sense of humor, he’s smart but doesn’t let it go to his head, he’s grounded and real despite his powers. He cares about the consequences in life and has a lot of heart. All qualities worthy of aspiration.”
Christopher Smallfield, CG supervisor, Trixter

Cinefex 156 Thor: RagnarokThor

“Sure, he’s able to regenerate limbs and organs, live practically forever (as long as he keeps eating his mythical Asgardian apples of immunity) and can fly with the help of his hammer. But look at his hair!”
Theodore Bialek, VFX supervisor, Sony Pictures Imageworks

“The guy can travel across the universe and lives for thousands of years.  What’s not to like about that? Not to mention those muscles!”
Gerardo Ramirez, previs and postvis supervisor, The Third Floor

“He is super strong, seems always quite happy ,and even in the eye of the storm keeps an optimistic attitude.”
Dominik Zimmerle, VFX supervisor, Trixter

Vision

“People say I look like Paul Bettany! But besides that, I think he is very cool. And he has a great name for a visual effects supervisor!”
Stephane Ceretti, production VFX supervisor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp

And finally …

“I have no idea what Marvel character I am. I think I’m probably Budget Guy!”
Shane Mahan, co-owner, Legacy Effects

“Well, my name rhymes with Tony Stark, but I don’t think I’m that cool. I really liked Korg, but I’m not that funny. I’ll settle for Magneto – torn between using my powers for good and evil. I’m also something of a metal fan!”
Tony Clark, managing director, Rising Sun Pictures

“If I could choose to be any Marvel superhero it’d be a toss up between Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. They are probably the two most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe!”
José Fernandez, owner, Ironhead Studio

“I’d be Stan Lee. He’s clearly having the most fun.”
Ged Wright, VFX supervisor, Double Negative


Don’t forget to order your copy of Cinefex 158, where you can read the complete article along with cover-to-cover analysis of the Marvel Studios phenomenon. Don’t miss out!