VFX Oscar Bakeoff 2010: Seeing is Believing
ILM's Roger Guyett emphasized how the passion and imagination of director J.J. Abrams powered the Star Trek reboot (which also included the contributions of Digital Domain, Lola and Svengali):"And we wanted to make a very bold statement with great sensitivity toward the very loyal fan base and the legacy of the show…we paid well attention to J.J.'s very distinctive camera style -- we were often having to blend between the real and the virtual worlds. A lot of these shots started with a blank canvas and that gave us a great opportunity to compose creatively, and use color and lighting design to help build the storytelling… We had lots of spaceships and we had to build ours to an incredible level of detail. J.J. really wanted the fans to enjoy the ships inside and outside. And there is a lot of simulation work in the movie: you see the destruction of Vulcan in different scales; the planet's surface itself… various lava fluids and all sorts of pyroclastic elements and then you see the entire planet swallowed by a black hole…"
Dan Kaufman touted the skillful work on District 9 (Image Engine, The Embassy, Weta Digital and Zoic), which had a budget of only $32 million and a production schedule lasting a little more than a year: "And Neill Blomkamp, our director, wanted to create a very natural, seamless, organic movie, and shoot in a spontaneous and improvisational way to capture the almost documentary feel to the look… This meant we had to have extremely flexible pipeline and tools so we could hit the ground running with such a limited post-production schedule… So for the aliens in District 9, Neill wanted something really, really alien, something that would be very strange and even repulsive to the humans in the movie as well as the audience. There are also several main characters who are aliens so we had to come up with a way to inject some kind of human expression into them so that audience could relate and connect to them on an emotional level. Now we only had the upper part of the face to show the aliens' emotions and so we came up with a system of overlapping plates that moved in conjunction with each other to provide the recognizable human expressions that we needed…
Charles Gibson touted the work on Terminator Salvation (which included ILM, Asylum, Rising Sun Pictures and Matte World Digital): "Every decision that we made was influenced by [this taking place in our world and not in a distant future]. We wanted to avoid the sterility of a completely post-production-based approach… Everything was reviewed very carefully in terms of the smartest way to do things… generally the most realistic, filmmaker-friendly, cost-effective and the benchmark for that was that if we had to make the film again, we would probably go and do it the same way we did it the first time. With the freedom, we could sort of drift between technique to make these choices. This was only possible because all the different technologies that we used have really progressed pretty dramatically in the past few years… ILM's toolset is really amazing too and keeps evolving. They have these physically-accurate lighting models that are just incredible; these reflective models and then radiating models; rigid body simulations, fracturing, explosive, liquid, collapsing flesh…"