VFX Videos of the Week 11-07-14

by Graham Edwards

The Centrifuge Brain Project

Do you dare to take a ride with “The Centrifuge Brain Project”?

Yes folks, Friday has come round again. That means it’s time for another round-up of my favourite videos from the last seven days.

This week saw the release of the first trailer for Chappie, the new film from Neill Blomkamp, due out March 2015. Anything new by Blomkamp is a cause for celebration, even if Elysium didn’t reach the incredibly high bar set by his debut feature District 9.

The trailer is full of familiar Blomkamp tropes – the earthy setting, the ultra-functional robot and a seductive blend of pathos and powerhouse action. Personally I wish he’d ease back with the explosions, but the effects – courtesy of Image Engine, Ollin VFX, The Embassy and Weta Workshop – look grungily gorgeous. I like the robot’s performance and the overall offbeat tone and I also like the idea of Hugh Jackman playing a bad guy:

Next up is a smart new showreel from Atomic Fiction. The reel includes some great work from Star Trek Into Darkness, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Flight and many others:

Disney just released a new trailer for Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods. Based on the hit Broadway show, and with a starry cast including Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt, it’s a musical mash-up of the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm. Visual effects are by MPC and Atomic Arts, and the special effects supervisor is Stefano Pepin:

I doubt we’ll see many musical numbers in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, but if this new trailer is anything to go by, Peter Jackson’s throwing everything at what’s being billed as the “defining chapter” of his Middle Earth saga. There are orcs and elves, dwarfs, trolls and wizards, not to mention one heck of a lot of sabre-rattling soldiers (well, there are five armies, after all). On several occasions the screen is filled by flocks of giant bats and – I may be mistaken – I’m sure I spotted the kitchen sink in there somewhere. With visual and practical effects by Weta Digital and Weta Workshop respectively, this looks like it’s going to close off the trilogy in spectacular fashion:

Warning: there are no visual effects in my next choice. However, if you’re (a) hyped about Interstellar and (b) have even a passing interest in film history, you’ll get a kick out of seeing eight padlocked 70mm film reels arriving at the Willow Creek 12 Theatre in Plymouth, MN, before being cleaned and prepped ready for projection.

According to their website, this Muller Family Theatre is one of only ten left in the US capable of presenting the movie to the general public in this format and, with Dave the projectionist in charge, it looks to me like Christopher Nolan’s latest is in excellent hands:

As part of its current celebration of science fiction cinema, the British Film Institute has just made available dozens of rarely-seen sci-fi films through its online BFI Player. It’s an eclectic mix, ranging from Walter Booth’s 1911 spacefaring short The Automatic Motorist, to A Short Vision (a slice of animated atomic war angst from 1956) and the post-apocalyptic Memoirs of a Survivor starring Julie Christie. Access to BFI Player varies depending where you are in the world, but at the very least the list of synopses is well worth a browse:

Watch rare science fiction films on the BFI Player

Feeling festive? UK department store chain John Lewis has a reputation for producing heart-warming Christmas TV ads with high production values. This year is no exception. So set aside your Scrooge-like tendencies and cuddle up with Monty’s Christmas, which stars an adorable penguin brought to life through the visual effects artistry of MPC:

My final choice has been spinning around the internet for a couple of years, but it’s one short film that I’m always ready to share with a discerning audience. That includes you, dear reader. The Centrifuge Brain Project is a spoof documentary made by Till Nowak as a kind of absurdist love letter to theme park rides. I love it for its dry sense of humour and (of course) for its daft and delightful visual effects:

Now it’s time to vote for your favourites. Last week’s winner, with a scorching 46.5% of the vote – was Hasraf Dullull’s proof-of-concept short film Sync. So who’s going to win this round-up? Cast your vote now, and come back next week to check the result!