Getting Cosmic with Cloud Atlas
The VFX was also applied subtly to some of the characters despite an emphasis on prosthetics. For Hae-Joo Chang, the heroic revolutionary played by Jim Sturgess during the Sonmi sequence, Method LA adjusted and replaced eyelids in close-up and sometimes added eyelashes and new eyeballs while keeping the essence of the actor intact.
For Hugo Weaving's Nurse Noakes, the prosthetics looked too much like a mask and so they recruited Lola, which worked wonders on Skinny Steve in Captain America. They applied their distinctive 2.5D warping and tucked in some of the jaw line and neck to make the head look more human and the face more feminine.
"I'm constantly trying to find ways that you adapt the visual effects process to fit whatever the needs are," Glass concludes. "Tree of Life was the ultimate distance away from a typical high-tech production. This was somewhat in the middle. So for us, it was trying to bring the level of sophistication and flexibility that they're used to and not impede their process. And the way the movie came together, it was just being able to react with great speed because, especially in the Sonmi area, they needed good, representative material. They love being collaborative and to that end we achieved more than we could have in any other way."
Bill Desowitz is former senior editor of AWN and VFXWorld, the owner of Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), a columnist for Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and author of James Bond Unmasked (www.jamesbondunmasked.com), which chronicles the 50-year evolution of 007 on screen, featuring interviews with all six actors.