2011 Summer VFX Preview
Photoreal apes! That's what Weta Digital has created (under the supervision of Dan Lemmon) for this present-day origin story in San Francisco about genetic experimentation that leads to an all-out war for supremacy of the planet. Judging from the trailer, the chimpanzee Caesar is a CG wonder and Andy Serkis' best performance capture feat to date (talk about an evolution). Rupert Wyatt directs and James Franco stars as the compassionate scientist who inadvertently causes an all-out war for supremacy of the planet.
Every Terrence Malick film is an event, of course, and this one is reportedly a semi-autobiographical summary statement about the mystical relationship between humanity and nature that has been brewing for 35 years. It's about the loss of innocence for a young boy growing up in Texas in the '50s, which becomes an existential journey into the labyrinth of life in adulthood (played by Sean Penn), and, finally, the discovery of the miraculous. Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain co-star. Great summer counter-programming and the kind of nourishment we used to get more steadily decades ago. The scientific-based vfx is overseen by Dan Glass with assistance by the legendary Doug Trumbull, and vendors include Double Negative, Prime Focus, One of Us, Method Studios and others.
It's hard to believe that Harry Potter's coming to an end with the all-out battle at Hogwarts to find and destroy Voldemort's final horcruxes. The rite of passage will be complete for our young wizard and also for London's Soho-based VFX studios (Double Negative, Framestore, MPC and Cinesite) that have come of age along with the phenomenal franchise. It's definitely the must-see film of the summer, and we anticipate that the VFX finally gets its due come awards time. Tim Burke, the overall visual effects supervisor, gave us a preview at the end of last year when he divulged that Hogwarts will be completely CG for the first time: "Of course, we've been developing R&D for Part II since back in 2009, when we started the digital build of Hogwarts [at Double Negative]," offers Burke. "Because, in order to achieve everything we needed for the massive fight sequences and the level of destruction, and to have flexibility later on, we decided, for the first time in the series, to do away with the miniature and turn to a full-CG environment of Hogwarts. So that's been ongoing for more than two years now and has been an absolute godsend. There have been so many changes in design and in shots and sequences and how the shots are being used. But because we have a CG model, we've just been able to go in and re-previs, re-block out. And, with the level of detail of our [CG] model, we can pretty much fly into any part of the school. So we've got complete freedom."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.