Meet Chappie, the robotic star not only of Neill Blomkamp’s new futuristic action/thriller, but also of the cover star of Cinefex issue 141. Available now, this new edition of the premier magazine for visual effects professionals and enthusiasts features behind-the-scenes analysis of the latest films by leading moviemakers.
As its cover promises, our latest edition investigates the making of Chappie, in which a robot child prodigy is 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.
Also featured in Cinefex 141 is The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the epic conclusion to Peter Jackson’s 20-year filmmaking odyssey through J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy landscape. Assisting him on this final leg of the journey were visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri, special makeup and creature designer Richard Taylor, armies of artists at Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, and NZFX special effects supervisor Steve Ingram.
Next we have the exotic science fiction fantasy Jupiter Ascending, for which visual effects supervisor Dan Glass reunited with The Matrix filmmakers Andy and Lana Wachowski to realize science fiction action and spectacular cosmic realms assisted by visual effects consultant John Gaeta, and artisans at Method Studios, Double Negative, Framestore, One Of Us, BlueBolt, The Aaron Sims Company, Halon Entertainment, Mokko Studio, Rodeo FX, BUF and The Third Floor. Special effects supervisor Trevor Wood, makeup effects supervisor Jeremy Woodhead and Ironhead Studios supplied practical effects.
Wrapping up this issue of Cinefex is Unbroken, a true tale of boundless courage and survival, for which director Angelina Jolie engaged effect artists at Industrial Light & Magic, Rodeo FX, Animal Logic, Ghost VFX, Hybride and Lola VFX to replicate the 1936 Berlin Olympic venues and create intense sequences of aerial combat and sea and land ordeals.
We think it’s an amazing line-up. All the same, the list of contents isn’t quite what was originally planned for issue 141. How so? I’ll let Cinefex editor-in-chief Jody Duncan tell you more …
Jody Duncan – From The Editor’s Desk
After 36 years in business, Cinefex normally runs like a well-tuned Lamborghini. The writing team writes and the production team produces — usually — without a hitch. But, every once in a while, a wrench is thrown in, grinding the gears of our Lamborghini’s engine. Issue 141 was just such an issue.
Our plan was to do a big story on Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, which was scheduled to be released in early March — perfect timing for our mid-March issue. I saw a very early screening of the film, and I came out of it charged up and ready to go. The film was stunning, and it offered me a chance to write about something outside our typical sci-fi subject matter. Whales instead of aliens. 19th century whaling ships instead of spacecraft. I was exhilarated!
I interviewed all of the visual effects principals, as well as Ron Howard — the first time we’d managed to snag an interview with the director, despite our having covered eight of his previous films. (Cocoon was, in fact, my first writing assignment for Cinefex.) I then spent several weeks writing the article, and was within a day of sending it off to typesetting … when I got a call from Warner Bros. The studio had made a last-minute decision to change the film’s release date from March 2015 to December 2015. In the Heart of the Sea could not be featured in our March issue.
We were now looking at the prospect of about 30 empty pages in the magazine, which would only be filled if I could write a substitute article in record time. Fortunately, the loss of In the Heart of the Sea (which will be featured in our December issue) meant the gain of a story on Unbroken — a movie I had greatly admired, based on a book I had read and loved. Unbroken turned out to be a terrific story from a visual effects standpoint!
Cinefex 141 also contains coverage of the third Hobbit movie — Joe Fordham’s final foray into Middle-Earth with Peter Jackson and Weta — as well as his story on the Wachowski siblings’ latest extravaganza, Jupiter Ascending. Our cover boy is Chappie, a charming fellow I came to know through interviews with director Neill Blomkamp, visual effects supervisor Chris Harvey and a host of other visual effects artisans. Fortunately, our engines were purring throughout the writing and production of all three articles. As for the fourth — Unbroken was worth losing a few hours’ sleep, and I can look forward to a light workload come the 2015 Christmas season, because one of my articles for our final issue of the year is in the bag. I think I’ll go shopping.
Thanks, Jody – enjoy that shopping spree when it comes!
As for issue 141, the time has come to stop talking and start reading. Use the links below to access the latest Cinefex in your favourite format.
Oh, and if you’re a robot, please note that Cinefex is optimised for human eyesight, so please make the appropriate adjustments to your optical sensors.