Going Alien with I Am Number Four
The ashing effect uses 3D characters together with both particle and fluid simulations. Entity FX developed the look and, using the company's in-house software, customized sequences, such as having allies dematerialize more slowly and lyrically for individual shots. Entity FX also provided CG-animated bodies and body parts, energy effects, digital blood, glowing swords, exploding crystals, windshields, face replacements, split screens, greenscreen compositing, rig removal, set cleanup, makeup enhancements and a symbolic night sky.
Lumen is also transferred to other tools and Dive (under the supervision of Ed Mendez) contributed to the effect of the blue glow by combining an enhanced and lengthened motion blur with the original gleam from an LED crystal embedded in a sword. The team then manually tracked both the tip and bottom of this crystal in each shot due to the speed of the blades and the lighting in the shots.
In terms of working with director Caruso, he "had very clear ideas of how he wanted the crews and actors to experience the effects sequences, which really assisted us in how we put them together. He wasn't one of these 'let's do it post' guys: he really wanted the actors to play out these sequences, and it gave us the leadership to understand how the practical side of the photography was going to drive our effects sequences.
"The final battle is a very physical one and we worked many nights in a high school football field where this takes place. And that whole scene ends up with an out of this world explosion that was a result of an alien weapon. Of course, here we are at this beautiful high school in Pennsylvania with a brand new football field. And we had to do blow up everything but we couldn't touch anything. We had to use every visual effect and special effect technique available without damaging the football field. We had to do it in pieces and so we shot lots of elements and the spectacular ending in a virtual environment, which ILM also helped with."
As for Bay, he participated heavily in the ultimate modeling and skin textures, and, from McMurry's perspective, "helped us understand what makes animated creatures exciting and answer the needs of the script."
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.