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Charlotte's Web
Article by Jody Duncan
Adapted from the children's classic about the unlikely friendship between a barnyard pig and a spider, Charlotte's Web offers up a live-action retelling of the beloved tale, directed by Gary Winick. Visual effects supervisor John Berton invited Rhythm & Hues — whose pioneering use of CG muzzle replacement in Babe made it the go-to company for talking animal effects — to craft an even more sophisticated version of that technique in the service of Wilbur, the talking pig. Tippett Studio and Rising Sun Pictures provided CG character animation for the film's other two protagonists, Charlotte and a rat named Templeton, while other contributors to the project included Digital Pictures Iloura, Fuel and Stan Winston Studio.
Casino Royale
Back to Basics
Article by Joe Fordham
In a break from tradition, Casino Royale, the latest entry in the enduring James Bond series, directed by Martin Campbell, reverts back to the franchise's leaner beginnings, eschewing the fancy gadgetry and slick CG tricks of more recent installments in favor of practical effects, exhilarating stunt work and meatier character development. Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and stunt coordinator Gary Powell teamed with visual effects supervisor Steven Begg and Peerless Camera Company to handle the requisite high-octane action featuring a new, more intense Bond — Daniel Craig — who, having just earned his stripes as a double-0 agent, falls in love and tangles with terrorists in a plot that spans the globe from Madagascar to Miami.
Searching for Saphira
Article by Jody Duncan
For his debut film, Eragon, based on the best-selling novel about a boy and the sapphire-colored dragon he raises from a hatchling, former visual effects supervisor-turned-director Stefen Fangmeier appealed to former colleagues at Industrial Light & Magic for help in conceiving and animating the CG fantasy creature. When the volume of shots grew in postproduction, additional CG dragon shots were assigned to Weta Digital, with visual effects supervisor Michael McAlister coordinating the work emerging from the two facilities. A variety of non-dragon effects were divvied among eight other facilities, with visual effects supervisor John Van Vliet overseeing the work.
Night at the Museum
Overview: Jim Rygiel & Ellen Somers on Night at the Museum
Article by Estelle Shay
A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and myriad other exhibits in New York's American Museum of Natural History magically come alive in Night at the Museum. Visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel and associate producer Ellen Somers examine the challenges of mining the film's fanciful premise for its full comic potential.
Overview: Peter Chiang on Flyboys
Article by Joe Fordham
Visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang elaborates on the clever use of practical, CG and miniature effects to capture authentic aerial battles for Flyboys — a film about the daring escapades of the Lafayette Escadrille, a combat unit of youthful American pilots who battled German forces in Europe prior to the United States' entry into World War I.
Q&A: Rob Legato
Interview by Joe Fordham
Operating out of a home-based visual effects unit set up in his basement, Oscar-winning freelance visual effects supervisor Rob Legato discusses his decision to break away from a studio-based paradigm, as well as his most recent work with Martin Scorsese on The Departed, and Robert De Niro on The Good Shepherd.
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