We Can Do That VFX Seminar

We Can Do That! When to Use Visual Effects and Why

October 13, 2012 An AD/UPM Council West AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee Seminar:

On October 13, the AD/UPM Council West’s DGA AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee presented We Can Do That! When to Use Visual Effects and Why. The audience in Los Angeles’ DGA Theater Two welcomed VFX Supervisors/Producers Kevin Blank, Mike Chambers, Andrew Orloff, and Wes Sewell who engaged in both demonstrations and discussions on the process required to make key choices about what effects to use, when to use them, and why. UPM Cleve Landsberg served as moderator of the event.

Following a welcome from Landsberg, who also serves as both the AD/UPM Council West’s First Vice Chair and as a member of the AD/UPM VFX/Digital Technology Committee, the panelists were introduced.

VFX Producer Mike Chambers kicked things off by showing clips from Inception and The Dark Knight Rises then discussing the subject of stunts and gags. In addition to those two films, Chambers other credits include I Am Legend, Gravity, and World War Z.

The process and possibilities of makeup visual effects were covered by VFX Supervisor Kevin Blank, who used a clip from his work on the science fiction television drama Fringe as an illustration. Blank’s other credits include the television series Terra Nova, Lost, and Alias, and the feature film Mission: Impossible III.

VFX Supervisor Wes Sewell introduced the segment on virtual characters by explaining how visual effects are turned from script to screen during pre-vis. He demonstrated the script breakdown with a clip from Iron Man, before using clips from the feature films Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Gears of War and The 3 Stooges to discuss virtual characters. Sewell’s other credits include the features Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Thor, and The Avengers.

Zoic Studios Creative Director Andrew Orloff continued discussion about virtual characters with clips from his work on the fantasy series Once Upon A Time and the alien invasion drama Falling Skies. Orloff’s other credits include the series True Blood, Fringe, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

The subject of character animation was lead off by Blank who used clips from Game of Thrones and Terra Nova before the group discussed the creation and usage of non-human characters. Chambers used other clips from Inception and The Dark Knight Rises in his talk about removal of the digital artifacts known as "bogeys." Orloff used a clip from CSI to explain the use of VFX enhancements. Sewell used scenes from The DaVinci Code, Pan’s Labyrinth, John Adams, Sweeney Todd, Rome and 300 to illustrate how the process of blue screens and green screens can be used to extend both interior and exterior sets. Blank complemented the set extensions conversation using the Brooklyn Bridge attack sequence from the monster movie Cloverfield. For the subject of virtual sets, Sewell incorporated clips from Cosmos, Iron Man and Thor, and Orloff brought in clips from Once Upon A Time, Vegas and Pan-Am to illustrate the possibilities. Following each presentation the entire panel engaged in a discussion of the processes and best practices.

The seminar concluded with a general discussion about new techniques and possibilities that are right around the corner and a Q&A where the panelists took questions from the audience.

photos by Tonya Wise
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