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Look Effects Shines at Sundance

Look Effects, after working on last year's Sundance sensation, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, which is now a best picture nominee, is the sole visual effects provider on two films debuting at the current Sundance Film Festival, THE NINES and DARK MATTER.

Signaling a new era of greater sophistication and technique in independent film production, both film's directors entrusted Look Effects and its visual effects supervisors to develop highly creative and technically challenging visual effects sequences. Henrik Fett served as visual effects supervisor on DARK MATTER while Max Ivins handled the visual effects supervision on THE NINES.

For THE NINES, directed by John August and starring Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, and Melissa McCarthy, Look's effects and animations further blurred the distinction between what is happening in reality and the gaming world. The standout sequence of the 19 shots Look created for the film, crescendos in a play between live action, CG animation and image manipulation that results in a rollercoaster ride of surrealism. This extraordinary flying sequence, which expands more than 40 seconds of film, witnesses a virtual melting of actors, peeling of set interiors then an amazing flight over West Los Angeles, the ocean, then up into a spectrally animated universe. "The variety of looks, techniques and the custom production path the sequence required were quite challenging," Ivins suggested.

In Chen Shi-Zheng's DARK MATTER, starring Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn and Blair Brown, Look completed 28 shots, including the main title sequence, which illustrates the creation of the universe. For this sequence, Look was challenged with creating a realistic cosmic event that would appear as organic (non-CGI) as possible without the budget to shoot original elements. To accomplish this task, Look developed new ways of manipulating existing footage of organic elements into a celestial fashion then choreographing and incorporating them with the selective use of CG animations. Fett credited the success of the shots to extensive design development recalling, "The time the director spent with us planning and specifying the details made a huge difference."

DARK MATTER producer Janet Yang praises Look's achievements: "We are thrilled with the work Look Effects has done for us and we have relished the congenial, collaborative environment in which they work. Look artfully and economically helped realize our vision for the film and for this we are eternally grateful. For visual effects, Look will always be our first stop."

"Increasingly, we are seeing independent film producers and directors involving us in their effects design and supervision for the types of sequences that we usually associate with major studio productions," added Mark Driscoll, president of Look Effects, adding, "Involving us early in their pre-production development gives them more creative options and greater economy."

THE NINES and DARK MATTER will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 21 and Jan. 23, respectively.

Hollywood-based Look Effects ( is a leading provider of digital effects solutions for feature film, television series and commercial production with services including digital effects design, supervision and production, 3D animation, including full 3D character animation and compositing services.