VFX Videos of the Week 11-28-14

by Graham Edwards


Omote Project

Omote Project – image source nobumichiasai.com

Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year, which means it’s time to put down that turkey sandwich and enjoy my VFX videos of the week.

Top of the list is this amazing example of real-time projection mapping. The Omote Project is an international collaboration between media artist Nobumichi Asai, makeup artist Hirohito Kuwahara and digital image engineer Paul Lacroix. “Omote” is the Japanese word for “face” or “mask”, and this art installation draws heavily from the traditions of Japanese Nogaku musical plays, which use masks to portray a multitude of emotions. The marriage of this ancient art and digital technology is stunning to behold:

In 14 Movie Special Effects You Won’t Believe Weren’t CGI – presented by Cracked.com – Amalgamated Dynamics founders Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis expound on the virtues of practical effects. Packed with great clips, and hosted by two of the most engaging men in the business, this falls into my “drop everything and watch this now” category:

Click to watch "14 Movie Special Effects You Won't Believe Weren't CGI"

Oh, and I’d be neglecting my duties if I failed to mention Joe Fordham’s exclusive interview with Tom and Alec, which you’ll be able to read in Cinefex 140 – out in just a few weeks!

This week’s seen an internet trailer war. It started innocently enough with this teaser for Pan. Directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement), this is a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. With visual effects by vendors including Scanline VFX, Framestore, Rising Sun Pictures and MPC, this looks luscious, and promises to be an interesting take on a tale that’s close to my heart:

However, Pan‘s thunder was decisively stolen by the first trailer for Jurassic World. It took the world by surprise on Tuesday when Universal Pictures released it into the wild a full two days ahead of schedule.

Like me, you’ve probably watched this trailer a dozen times already. Like me, you probably had a big, goofy grin on your face when you saw that Great White Shark hanging out over the lagoon. Like me, you probably can’t wait to see the movie when it’s released next June – and especially to eyeball those visual effects by Industrial Light & Magic, Legacy Effects and Image Engine. Oh, and don’t worry, I’ve been told dinosaur supervisor Phil Tippett will keep the darned things on a tighter leash this time around:

While there’s no official statement on the subject, there’s every chance the dinosaurs were unleashed early to stop them being taken apart by Jedi Knights. Yes, it’s true, the first teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released today, thus winning the internet – and quite probably breaking it – as roughly a gazillion eager fans send the iTunes Movie Trailers website spiralling into meltdown.

What can I say about this? It look like Star Wars. It sounds like Star Wars. It has a cute robot, a cool bike-speeder thing, X-Wing-style craft zooming low over water and a Millennium Falcon flyby to die for. And it’s giving me goosebumps. What are you waiting for?

In all that excitement, you could be forgiven for overlooking another Lucasfilm trailer: Strange Magic. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and directed by sound maestro Gary Rydstrom, it’s described as a “madcap musical fairy tale from the mind of George Lucas”. If you’re a Lucas-basher, look away now, but I reckon any trailer that looks this good – and makes me chuckle to boot – deserves its place on my VFX videos of the week:

There’s magic of a different kind in the music video The Last Goodbye, Billy Boyd’s closing credits song for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Intercutting Boyd’s studio performance with clips from both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, this is the perfect coda to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth odyssey:

Have you heard of Secret Cinema? If you have, you’ll probably know what to expect from this next video. If not, I won’t spoil it by telling you. Let’s just say that, following their critically acclaimed interactive presentations of The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shawshank Redemption, this London-based event company has been staging the most immersive screenings of the Robert Zemeckis classic Back to the Future you can imagine. Roads? Where they’re going, they don’t need roads:

While I’m straying from VFX in the strictest sense, take a look at The Animated Adventures Of Firefly: Production Diary, in which artist Stephen Byrne spends a dazzling 8 minutes and 48 seconds breaking down the process of creating a single 2½-second animated shot that portrays a heartbreaking character moment from Joss Whedon’s Firefly ‘verse. This will first hypnotise you, then make you shed one, small tear:

Right. Back to the VFX … with a vengeance. MPC has just released this stunning breakdown reel of their work on Godzilla. While I had issues with the script of Gareth Edwards’s blockbuster, the VFX were never less than amazing … as this reel proves:

As for my final choice of the week, well, it’s bigger than Jurassic World. It’s more gasp-inducing than Godzilla. It’s as deliciously hands-on as the practical FX of Amalgamated Dynamics. Yes, it’s Gregg Shay’s teaser video showing our next print edition, Cinefex 140, running smoothly through the state-of-the-art Heidelberg Speedster XL-106 8-Color UV Perfector press at Neyenesch Printers in San Diego:

Last week’s winner in the reader’s poll was the MPC breakdown reel for X-Men: Days of Future Past. Now it’s time to vote for your favourite video in this week’s selection. Will you favour the practical or the pixellated? It’s time to decide!