VFX Videos of the Week 12-12-14

by Graham Edwards

YardbirdHeading this week’s selection of VFX videos is Yardbird, a short film from Bridle Path Films directed by Michael Spiccia. It stars Mitzi Ruhlmann as young girl Ruby, who in facing up to a gang of scrapyard bullies is forced to exercise her strange and disturbing powers.

Yardbird uses both special and visual effects in the best way possible – to underpin the story without taking centre-stage. SFX are byPaul Norton at Portfire Studios, with VFX provided by Fin Design & Effects (CG supervisors Stuart White & Steve Oakley), Canopy VFX (VFX supervisor Travis Hogg) and Fuel (VFX supervisor Dave Morley):

Home Sweet Home

Here’s another short: the charming animated film Home Sweet Home, by Pierre Clenet, Alejandro Diaz, Romain Mazevet and Stéphane Paccolat. It’s a buddy movie starring two suburban houses which decide to abandon their foundations and explore the world. Some great character work and gorgeous compositions made this a festival favourite, and resulted in its being awarded Best Computer Animated Short Film Award at Siggraph 2014:

Next up is High Quality Capture of Eyes, which describes an improved approach to the motion capture and modelling of those fable windows of the soul. This video is from Disney Research, and was presented as part of a paper at SIGGRAPH Asia 2104. According to the Disney press release: “To faithfully reproduce all the intricacies of the human eye we propose a novel capture system that is capable of accurately reconstructing all the visible parts of the eye: the white sclera, the transparent cornea and the non-rigidly deforming colored iris.”

Most people would agree that faithful representation of the human eye is one of the keys to convincing character animation. If this technique delivers what it promises, it’s another step towards the other side of the uncanny valley:

There are some big old movie trailers doing the rounds this week. First up – and my personal favourite – is The Walk, out next year and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as tightrope walker Philippe Petit, who famously strung a wire between the twin roofs of the World Trade Center and set out to walk the gap. I’ll be first in line for any new Robert Zemeckis film, and if this stunning teaser is anything to go by, his knack of mythologising both time and location looks set to produce something truly memorable. Visual effects in this trailer are by Atomic Fiction, who are currently hard at work on the rest of the film, with Kevin Baillie supervising:

This second choice is also my favourite of the week (who says I can’t have two favourites?). It’s the teaser trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road. This looks just gloriously insane, with high-octane stunts, a jaw-dropping sandstorm, and Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron looking utterly at home in George Miller’s fetishistic future world. VFX are by Iloura and Method Studios. Me, I can’t wait for May 2015:

Oh, and I have a third favourite trailer (so sue me). This is Inside Out, the upcoming animated feature from Disney Pixar. It’s a scene in which we get to see inside the heads of an average suburban family as tuck into their evening meal. The whole thing is beautifully observed, perfectly executed and laugh-out-loud funny. As my Cinefex colleague Joe Fordham remarked: “Nobody out-Pixars Pixar”:

Rounding out this week’s selection is a rare promotional trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, courtesy of Eyes on Cinema. With its portentous voiceover, heavy reliance on production art and intriguing slit-scan test footage by Douglas Trumbull, this one’s a truly nostalgic novelty:

That’s all for this week. Last week’s VFX video with the most votes was A Cup of Tea at Engine House VFX. Which is your favourite from this week’s selection? Make your choice right now – or suggest a video of your own – and get voting!