Click to Visit
 
  2-POP | Cinematographer | Digital Cinema | Design In Motion | Director's World | Editor's Net | Post Industry | VFX Pro | Videography
 
CPC Home

Article Search


Free Newsletter
Name
Email
Zip

 Text     HTML

Jobs
Forums
Send News to Editor
catherine.feeny
@creativeplanet.com

CPC Contact info

creativePLANET Communities
5700 Wilshire Blvd.,
Ste. 600
LA, CA 90036
Tel:323.634.3400
Fax:323.634.2615

 

     


Click to Visit

Click to Visit

Click to Visit

Click to Visit


 

Lance Wilhoite on the VFX of "Ghosts of Mars"
By Catherine Feeny
August 31, 2001 02:37 PM PDT

Previous Page

Page 1 2 3

Next Page

 

 

Train at Shining Station
2.7 MB QuickTime 5 Movie










Did that require more time on the set?

No, not at all. I am very sensitive to minimizing the intrusion to the production. And in fact, on many shots, my team was able to get most of the data we needed as they were finishing the setup, with no extra time involved. In another example, Carpenter needed a fight scene on top of the moving train. Production had only one practical locomotive out in the desert that was moved with a pulley. And the high winds every night made the outdoor use of a green screen very risky. The economical solution was to stage the actors in green screen and comp them onto our miniature train and landscape. We took the basic angle from the storyboards, wedged 15 different animatics of the full composite and let Carpenter choose the exact shot. We then interpolated the scene data from Maya and gave production all the necessary information such as camera height, angle, lens, light positions and intensities. It was amazing how little time it took when nearly all the decisions were made ahead of time.

John and his DP Gary Kibbe expected a bit of a challenge when we had to shoot the actors actually standing on the green screen. They were used to the old digital green standard, where spill and color suppression issues arose from the subjects being too close to the screen. But what I suggested to them was a new mixture of green paint containing a vibrant phosphorous.Black lights excite the chemicals and provide a much cleaner exposure with almost 35% less luminance. Less luminance means less spill, less blue suppression, softer edges, better comp.

 

Locket Swirl
2.7 MB QuickTime 5 Movie










How did you go about choosing different artists and companies to work with?

Iím kind of an effects nut. And I have come to know lots of artists at companies big and small. I know who did what on many different films. I look for a match of experience with the kind of effects Iím looking for. R & D budgets can obviously be reduced when the artist or team has created similar shots. One problem with the big shops is that they have a chain five or six people long, and to me, it is like the old Kindergarten telephone line game. By the time the shot strategy gets down to the guy pushing the buttons, itís been filtered through lots of different people. Itís not only horribly inefficient from a time and cost standpoint, it also has a propensity to cloud the intent of the directorís original vision for the shot. And what often happens is that the director is ďsoldĒ the shot from one of the effects producers or handed an overage bill to cover additional man days to try and get it right. Over even worse, upper management will conceal the discrepancy and reduce the time, machines and people allocated to other important shots. Either way, the budget, the effect and ultimately the film suffers. This drove me to build the concept of the super technical director.

 

Vapor From Mouth
6.81 MB QuickTime 5 Movie










How does the super TD differ from a regular TD?

We all know the type. Theyíre the small handful of guys,(and gals), youíll always find at effect shops big and small that are brilliant, gifted and the driving force behind the really beautiful and challenging shots you see on the company reel. They started out years ago in roto and paint, went on to animation and compositing and ended up as animation supervisors or the managing technical director. Then, upper management removes them from doing shots and instead has them going around the shop, lending their expertise and advice to the junior animators actually doing your effects. The bigger companies, rightfully so, use this technique to breed the next generation of top staff. But the sad truth is that all too often, the top people in the company are not doing your shots. And as a result, a large part of your effects budget is really subsidizing the training of newer artists. Itís the way larger shops stay afloat. But it is definitely not the best use of valuable production money.After doing the math on lots of shows, Iíve found itís much more efficient to give a super TD blocks of common shots. Meaning they handle the entire process from start to finish. I donít know how many times Iíve observed highly paid artists sitting at idle computers waiting for shot elements from the Roto & Paint Department or temporary animatic slugs from animation. On ďGhosts of MarsĒ, I had the super TDís multitask at every turn. For example, as they waited for an animatic to finish rendering, theyíd be writing roto shapes and garbage mattes for the next shot. Iíve found that most really gifted TDís are naturally efficient with time and process. And they donít like waiting around! I also saved many hours with a proprietary job structure allowing me to work seamlessly with gifted artists all over the world with floating licenses distributed quickly as needed.

 

Drucker's Mine
8.98 MB QuickTime 5 Movie










Iíd have the team create an iteration of the shot by noon and editorial would FTP a Quick Time from our site. John would look at it when he got there at 1 and give us feedback. The super TD, John Carpenter and I would talk about the progress and direction of the shot. It wasnít filtered through six different people. We were able to turn around the next version of the shot in a couple of hours. We got iterations to him before he left for his lunch break and while he was still thinking about it. The shots looked excellent and John Carpenter was blown away by them. Gary Kibbe has been Johnís DP for most of his features and he told me they were the best effects ever done on any of his movies.

 

Earth From Space
7.21 MB QuickTime 5 Movie










The feedback chain being shortened is key to cutting to costs in the effects business. Thatís how we were able to make it cheaper without sacrificing quality. I also used two of the best matte painters in the business -- Richard Kriegler and Peter Lloyd. They worked with me on "Star Trek: InsurrectionĒ and they are brilliant. They live in Santa Barbara.

Previous Page

Page 1 2 3

Next Page


  Privacy Statement | Terms of Service | Webmaster | Copyright 2002 © United Entertainment Media, Inc. A CMP Information Company