To create cinematic illusions, you need conjurors. In this series of spotlight interviews, we ask movie magicians what makes them tick.
Noah Vice is a CG supervisor, and look development and lighting supervisor, at Rising Sun Pictures, with screen credits including Thor: Ragnarok, Avatar, Logan, Game of Thrones and Super 8.
CINEFEX: How did you get started in the business, Noah?
NOAH VICE: When I was a young boy, my father brought an Apple Macintosh back to Australia from the US and it was love at first sight. I quickly traded in my pencil for the hockey puck-like mouse and dove in head first. My first big break was at Micro Forte Games in Canberra, where I designed, built and rendered 3D levels for their isometric space game Enemy Infestation.
CINEFEX: What aspect of your job makes you grin from ear to ear?
NOAH VICE: Being in a packed cinema on opening night, and seeing the faces of the audience light up as they enjoy my work.
CINEFEX: And what makes you sob uncontrollably?
NOAH VICE: Last minute shot omits at the end of a project. Running out of time on a shot before I’m really truly happy with it.
CINEFEX: What’s the most challenging task you’ve ever faced?
NOAH VICE: On Avatar, I was tasked with picking up a complex asset that the project supervisor had look-developed himself. That supervisor was one of my idols, John Knoll. It was a daunting task, however having reviews at John’s desk and learning to work to his standard was incredibly rewarding.
CINEFEX: And what’s the weirdest task?
NOAH VICE: On You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I brought to life a CG piranha that was trapped in Adam Sandler’s swimming shorts. Enough said!
CINEFEX: What changes have you observed in your field over the years?
NOAH VICE: Probably the biggest change that I’ve observed first hand has been the industry’s move towards raytracing and physically based rendering. It’s now standard practice on set to capture lidar and HDRs, and that’s the foundation of the lighting process in post production. The acceleration and automation of creative tasks throughout the entire filmmaking process has also been streamlined and democratized. Every day it’s becoming increasingly easier to plan, visualize, and prototype things rapidly throughout the entire process.
CINEFEX: And what changes would you like to see?
NOAH VICE: I would love to see the increased use of VR/AR and real-time rendering in our daily workflows. I think there is a tremendous opportunity to heighten the level of interaction an artist has with their materials that could dramatically improve our speed and quality.
CINEFEX: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
NOAH VICE: Believe in yourself – if you don’t, you can’t expect anyone else to either. Never give up – persistence will get you everywhere. Smile in the face of adversity and hardship – if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!
CINEFEX: If you were to host a mini-festival of your three favorite effects movies, what would you put on the bill, and why?
NOAH VICE: Terminator 2: Judgment Day – this is where it all began for me and the visual effects still hold up today. The L.A. aqueduct bike chase is a stand out sequence, for sure.
The Matrix – it’s a triumph of futuristic coolness and it changed the visual effects scene completely. The lobby shoot-out sequence is off the chart.
Blade Runner 2049 – it’s the genre I love the most and it’s executed perfectly in this film. Too soon? No way! The flight to L.A.P.D. headquarters, Las Vegas ruins, and Chinatown sequences are gorgeous.
CINEFEX: What’s your favorite movie theater snack?
NOAH VICE: As a part-Hawaiian, I can’t go past mochi crunch or some good sushi rolls.
CINEFEX: Noah, thanks for your time!