Tag Archives: visual effects

Wired celebrates the new Star Wars with a look back


The return of Star Wars is Wired’s latest cover, and the stories went online today, starting with a feature on how the movies revolutionized special effects and 74 things every great Star Wars movie needs. They also take a look at how the Kessel Run turns Han into a time-traveler (…okay) and a column by Chris Hardwick.

There are also looks at the Battle of Hoth, LEGOs as ‘photo fan fiction’.

Sorry, nerds: Tupac hologram at Coachella was not actually a hologram

A lot of George Lucas jokes have been made over a ‘hologram’ performance by dead rapper Tupac Shakur at the Coachella music festival on Sunday, but it wasn’t a hologram at all.

Coachella’s Tupac was a 2-D creation of Digital Domain Media Group, who won a visual effects Oscar for aging Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And it was projected using technology dating from the 19th Century:

The effect relies on an angled piece of glass in which a “ghostly” image is reflected. “A piece of glass can be both transparent and reflective at the same time, depending on how it’s situated relative to the audience,” said Mr. Steinmeyer, pointing out the secret.

In the Victorian version of the trick, the glass reflected an actual actor, situated out of sight in near the orchestra. On Sunday night, the image was projected on a piece of Mylar—a highly reflective, lightweight plastic—stretched on a clear frame.

A similar effect was used in 2003 to project an image of Frank Sinatra. Virtual Tupac may go on tour later this year with other (living) hip-hop stars

Oscar, briefly: Inception takes VFX, Portman Best Actress

There were few surprises at tonight’s Oscars: Lone genre Best Picture nom Inception was awarded mostly in technical categories (including Visual Effects… Sorry, ILM.) And Natalie Portman did indeed win Best Actress for Black Swan.

For the rest, The King’s Speech cleaned up with 4 awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Colin Firth. Batman Jesus Christian Bale took home Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter. But perhaps most mind-blowing to this former teen of the 90’s: Trent Reznor now has an Oscar (for The Social Network score.)

As for the ceremony itself… It was pretty standard; All the real fun was (of course) partaking in all the snark on Twitter. I did greatly enjoy the auto-tune, though.

And yes, Irvin Kershner did make the In Memoriam reel, as did modelmaker Grant McCune.

No big surprises in Oscar noms

Per usual, not too much for genre fans to get excited about. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which I suppose could classify as fantasy, sort of, had the most nods this year, including Best Picture and Actor. Heath Ledger is up for Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight, but the movie failed to get any other major nominations. It is up for the usual throw-them-a-bone categories of Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.

Wall-E did pretty good – it failed to get a Best Picture nod as many were hoping for, but it is up for Animated Film (duh,) Original Screenplay, Original Song, and several technical awards.

The Visual Effects category puts Benjamin Button up against The Dark Knight and ILM’s Iron Man.

UPDATE: StarWars.com has a full listing of all ILM and Skywalker Sound Oscar nominations, as well as BAFTA and VES nods.

Shock and Awe: The 50 best special effects

Den of Geek’s top fifty movie special effects shots is a hell of a list. It willingly embraces all eras, movies that you might not expect (Hitchcock?!?) and hell, I think I learned a thing or two. (And all the scenes have a video. That’s some serious dedication.) It probably goes without saying that A New Hope and Return of the Jedi get entries.

Plus I’ll take any excuse to lead off with Harryhausen.

They also have a list of the 24 worst special effects of all time, which includes that horrible Special Edition Jabba scene. (Which I still hold is worse than Han shooting first.)

RIP: Effects master Stan Winston

Numerous media outlets today reported the death of Stan Winston, the Oscar-winning special effects master whose work included Terminator, Jurassic Park, and Aliens. He was 62.

ILM’s Dennis Muren, who supervised Jurassic Park’s digital effects, told Variety:

“When you put (Winston’s creatures and digital effects) together, the audience was confused, and sometimes we were, too, about who had done what.

“But Stan had always said, ‘It shouldn’t be all one or all the other; it should be a combination of the two.'”

Michael Heilemann over at Binary Bonsai has a brief tribute – and a book recommendation.

Interviews: Lorne Peterson, Greg Keyes, Bob Bergen