Chappie – Cinefex 141 Extract

by Graham Edwards

Cinefex 141 - "Chappie"

All this week, we’re featuring exclusive extracts from our brand new magazine issue, Cinefex 141, now available in both print and digital editions.

First up is Chappie. Starring Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Sharlto Copley, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp offers this action/thriller story about a robot child prodigy kidnapped by criminals and raised within their dysfunctional family. Weta Workshop provided practical props and effects, along with special effects supervisor Max Poolman. Visual effects were created by Image Engine, Ollin VFX Studio and The Embassy VFX.

In this extract from Jody Duncan’s article, Rules of Robotics, Chris Harvey of Image Engine discusses the creation of the film’s robot characters.

Final robot designs went to visual effects supervisor Chris Harvey and the crew at Image Engine, the show’s primary visual effects provider, which would deliver close to 1,000 shots, including all of those involving digital robot characters. “We brought Weta Workshop’s two-dimensional designs into Image Engine,” recalled Harvey, “and began to flesh them out in three dimensions. That was a very long, detailed process – and it was quite different from what usually happens. Typically on a film, someone does concept design, and then that is built physically, and then the visual effects team has to replicate what was built. What we did was the opposite of that. The concepts came to us first, and then we developed those. We worked out how the robot would function, physically – how all the gears and mechanisms, joints and limbs would function in the real world. So it was a very physically-based design, which was important to Neill. He wanted it to look like something that could be conceivably built, even today.”

Ultimately, Image Engine modeled 16 different versions of Chappie to accommodate his evolution through the film, as well as 12 generic Scouts. “We had to create a whole police force of these guys,” explained Chris Harvey. “There was the prototype droid, called Robot Deon, and then droids for the end of the film when they go offline and they are vandalized – spray-painted, burned and beat up. Counting all the different versions of Chappie and the Scouts, we created 28 unique robots for the film.”

Read the complete article in Cinefex 141, which also features The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Jupiter Ascending and Unbroken.

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