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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Beneath the Barnacles
Article by Joe Fordham
In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, a rousing sequel to the immensely popular original, Curse of the Black Pearl, returning director Gore Verbinski once again joins forces with Industrial Light & Magic and a host of supporting visual effects vendors to deliver all-new adventures on the high seas with Captain Jack Sparrow and his cohorts. ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll, whose work on the original garnered an Academy Award nomination, this time pushes the boundaries of motion capture and CG animation in depicting a tentacled sea monster and legendary pirate Davy Jones and his crew, hideously mutated by an ancient mariner's curse. Other key contributors include conceptual artist Mark 'Crash' McCreery, makeup supervisor Ve Neill and physical effects supervisors Michael Lantieri and Allen Hall.
The Fountain
Celestial Alchemy
Article by Joe Fordham
Exploring metaphysical themes of life, death and rebirth interwoven in a narrative that spans past, present and future, The Fountain follows one man's quest for the Fountain of Youth and eternal life. Writer/director Darren Aronofsky, who favored a traditional optical approach over CG, called upon visual effects designers Dan Schrecker and Jeremy Dawson to oversee the effects work, which ranged from ancient Mayan battles to a futuristic starship's exploration of uncharted space. Heading up the roster of visual effects vendors was Intelligent Creatures, a Toronto-based company assigned the majority of shots, many of them featuring spectacular cosmic vistas derived from macrophotographic imagery. Zero-gravity rigs and other practical effects were the work of Les Productions de l'Intrigue.
Flags of our Fathers
One For All Time
Article by Jody Duncan
The iconographic photograph of six young soldiers raising the American flag during World War II's bloody battle of Iwo Jima serves as the focal point of Flags of our Fathers, director Clint Eastwood's latest film, based on the bestselling nonfiction book by James Bradley. Production visual effects supervisor Michael Owens and a team of artists at Digital Domain were challenged to re-create the famous battle and flag-raising, as well as views of 1940s-era New York and other period settings for scenes of the surviving soldiers on a cross-country tour to promote the sale of war bonds. Seeking a gritty photorealism, digital artists augmented live-action, shot mostly in Iceland, with everything from CG environments and set extensions, to virtual ships and assorted atmospheric effects.
World Trade Center
Overview: John Scheele on World Trade Center
Article by Jody Duncan
Visual effects supervisor John Scheele discusses the challenges inherent in simulating the horrific events of September 11, 2001 for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, a recounting of the nation's worst terrorist attack as seen through the eyes of two New York Port Authority police officers, buried and later rescued from the rubble of the twin towers.
Lady in the Water
Overview: Mike Elizalde and Ed Hirsch on Lady in the Water
Article by Jody Duncan
For Lady in the Water, a scary bedtime tale adapted to the big screen by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, creature effects supervisor Mike Elizalde of Spectral Motion and visual effects supervisor Ed Hirsh of Industrial Light & Magic share their approach to the design and creation of the story's array of mythical creatures.
A Scanner Darkly
Overview: Sterling Allen on A Scanner Darkly
Article by Estelle Shay
Lead animator Sterling Allen elaborates on the novel technique of digitally rotoscoping live-action performances to achieve the uniquely stylized, yet realistic look of Richard Linklater's all-animated film, A Scanner Darkly.
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