Green Lantern


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Senior VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Sony Pictures Imageworks
CLIENT: DC Entertainment | Warner Bros. Pictures
VFX SUPERVISOR: Jim Berney
DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell

For DC Entertainment’s highly-anticipated superhero entry “Green Lantern,” I was tasked with a handful of shots for the “training platform” sequence. Here, mortal Hal Jordan learns to wield his Lantern powers on the distant planet Oa.

The entire sequence was shot greenscreen in mo-cap suits, utilizing only the actors’ heads for the final composites. Each shot consisted of a CG pan & tile OA environment background and midground, a more detailed platform foreground with neighboring architecture, and a multi-layered CG Hal and/or Sinestro suit. Additional elements included “constructs” of a sword made of green energy, and the famous Lantern ring.

Since the only practical element retained from plate photography was the actors’ heads, the primary challenge was blending real necklines with CG suit collars. Often, the CG elements needed extra warping and tracking to create a convincing blend. Also, the Lantern suits needed to be alive with green arcing energy, and dialed to intensity depending on the actions of the training sequence.

Project X


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Senior Flame Artist / VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Method Studios
CLIENT: Warner Bros. Pictures
VFX SUPERVISOR: Joe Henke
DIRECTOR: Nima Nourizadeh

“Project X” is a teen raunch-com that utilizes the faux-documentary found-footage technique to depict the ultimate high school party. The film culminates in a fiery showdown, featuring an angry flamethrower-wielding party-goer, thousands of drunken panicked teenagers, water-dousing helicopters, news crews, and a swat team.

Although there’s a considerable amount of practical fire in the shot footage, including the flamethrower, much of it needed enhancement to intensify the chaos and danger of the situation. And due to the footage’s frantic handheld nature, cleanup and integration of additional fire, smoke, and people/props proved that much more challenging.

I was tasked with creating the initial flamethrower explosion, where the police shoot one of the tanks, causing it to ignite. I also enhanced a number of flamethrower plumes, enlarged gas explosions, tracked leaves to fake trees that I made catch fire, and removed countless fire bars and hoses scattered throughout the set.

Lastly, on a number of shots, I assembled multiple disparate plates to appear as one continuous take, the main one being the run through the house, as it’s being doused with water from a hovering helicopter.

Speed Racer


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Look Effects
CLIENT: Warner Bros.
VFX SUPERVISOR: Max Ivins
DIRECTOR: The Wachoswki Brothers

My primary role on “Speed Racer” dealt with car cockpit repo’s and plate/set extensions. Towards the end of the project, editorial tweaks were made to certain cockpit shots of Speed and Cannonball, to make the final race more dynamic.

Since the plates were comprised of limited sets with mostly greensceen backing and props, this necessitated the rebuilding and extension of seats, seatbelts, helmets, and arms to accommodate the repo’d plates.

Also, a few shots were flopped, so helmet logos and any additional typography had to be adjusted accordingly.

All of the work was done in 2D, utilizing paint and source nodes, as well as extended bicubic surfaces.

Additional comp work included CG car exteriors.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: Paramount | Warner Bros.
VFX SUPERVISOR: Greg Strause & Erik Liles
DIRECTOR: David Fincher

My work on David Fincher’s critically acclaimed “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” focused primarily on the Paris sequence, where Daisy suffers her career-ending tragedy from an unexpected traffic accident. In the narrated montage, Daisy leaves her dance studio, twirling into the street in a mild euphoria, only to be struck by an oncoming taxi.

In addition to combining A-B plates for the car’s impact with Daisy, I enhanced a number of shots with matte paintings of dirty streets, period buildings, a re-positioned Eiffel Tower, and art-directed skies. Many of these shots required car reflection clean-ups, as well, due to the white reflective bounce screens placed high above the location streets.

Also, I composited a few establishing shots of Murmansk, comprised of matte painting extensions and CG snow, and did some clean-up work for Benjamin as a baby, removing a somewhat unconvincing mechanical infant from a blanket in Queenie’s arms.

The Incredible Hulk


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: Marvel Entertainment | Universal Pictures
VFX SUPERVISOR: Chris Wells
DIRECTOR: Louis Leterrier

For Marvel Entertainment’s “The Incredible Hulk,” I was tasked primarily with shots for the “University Raid” sequence, which consisted of extensive field clean-up, sky replacements, debris enhancement, the addition of rain, and of course, a CG Hulk.

As shot, the footage featured overcast skies throughout. As scripted, an oncoming storm mirrors the escalating rage of Bruce Banner’s Hulk, as he attempts to evade capture. As the action-packed sequence nears its conclusion, and the Hulk escapes, the storm reaches its peak, extinguishing the fiery damage caused during the sequence.

Seemingly straightforward, the sky replacements and clean-ups proved otherwise. The footage was shot anamorphic. The mostly hand-held camera-work was bouncing everywhere, plagued with high-frequency jitter. And the director strictly chose not to manipulate the plates, as is common practice in most compositing, to blend any of the sky replacements, as well as the grass clean-up and rig removal. Consequently, this added an extra degree of difficulty to some already challenging shots.

In addition to tackling a number of sky replacements and clean-ups, I also contributed to a few night helicopter shots, leading up to the film’s finale, where Bruce says his farewells to Betty before leaping to battle the Abomination.

Jumper


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: 20th Century Fox
VFX SUPERVISOR: Edson Williams
DIRECTOR: Doug Limon

For Doug Limon’s teleportation thriller “Jumper,” I worked on a number of shots for the final showdown between Anakin and Mace Windu … I mean Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson.

During the action-packed sequence, the showdown begins in an apartment, teleports to the bottom of a river, then concludes in a university library.

For the apartment jump, which results in the destruction of the upper floor, I contributed cracks and debris to the interior, warping and collapsing elements to the exterior, and underwater debris for when it appears beneath the river.

Also, I augmented a series of shots for the character of Millie, who’s trapped underwater due to the river teleportation. For this portion of the sequence, I composited CG bubbles and debris, as well as the environmental warp effect for the final jump back to the library.

Meet Dave


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: 20th Century Fox
VFX SUPERVISOR: Erik Liles
DIRECTOR: Brian Robbins

Without a doubt, Eddie Murphy’s sci-fi comedy “Meet Dave” was a far more challenging production than anyone could have realized. The concept was silly. Eddie Murphy plays the captain of a team of very tiny aliens, who travel in a very human-sized robotic spaceship named Dave, which, not-coincidentally, looks exactly like Eddie Murphy.

Essentially, this involved miniaturizing Eddie, and co-star Gabrielle Union, for many, many shots. Straightforward enough, with the exception that all the greenscreen photography was evenly lit, almost 70s sitcom-style, not acknowledging any given shot’s lighting conditions. Add to that Eddie wearing a pristine white suit, which notoriously captures green spill, and you have a recipe for a lot of challenging and time-consuming hard work.

I touched a number of shots from the New York sidewalk sequence, where a recently marooned miniature Eddie and Gabrielle attempt to return to starship Dave, who’s walking through the busiest part of downtown. This involved greenscreen comps of Gabrielle getting blown through the air and landing in a wad of gum, a CG Eddie and Gabrielle landing on Dave’s shoe, and a greenscreen shot of a dog relieving himself on a fire hydrant, with Eddie and Gabrielle narrowly escaping.

I also worked on the finale’s Liberty Island escape, where Dave attempts to elude capture by blasting off. This consisted of compositing smoke and fire exhaust from Dave’s feet, adding a CG net to ensnare him, and removing rigs to simulate take-off.

Lastly, I contributed work to the final views of Eddie and Gabrielle successfully leaving Earth, viewing the planet through the shoe’s window as they depart in celebration.

Alien vs. Predator: Requiem


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: 20th Century Fox
VFX SUPERVISOR: The Brothers Strause
DIRECTOR: The Brothers Strause

Regardless of one’s opinion on this somewhat anticipated sequel’s merits, “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem” represented a huge amount of quality VFX work accomplished by a rather small team of artists.

“AVP-R” was the directorial debut of Greg and Colin Strause, owners and VFX supervisors of the mid-sized shop Hydraulx, known for producing high-end work with limited resources on a compressed timeline … among other things.

Like previous projects, this film proved to be no different, conceived as an A-level visual effects blockbuster with a B-level budget. But this time it was produced entirely in-house.

I worked on a number of shots, utilizing every trick in the book to get away with as much as possible, as quickly as possible: CG aliens and jaw strikers; CG helicopters; CG and practical blood and gore (complete with parasitic flies); practical and painted spark hits and explosions; matte paintings for wounds, landscapes, and battle damage; monitor comps; various rig removals and clean-ups; and grading of all types.

The Invasion


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: Warner Bros.
VFX SUPERVISOR: Rob Hodgson
DIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel

The work I did on “The Invasion” represented a late-breaking challenge that arrived somewhat unexpectedly, all due to eleventh hour studio notes. Towards the end of the schedule, the decision was made to forgo the practical makeup that had been approved and shot during production. This involved all the facial and hand appliances for the film’s signature snatcher skin, necessitating a complete removal and subsequent replacement, with newly designed CG elements.

Fortunately, I wasn’t involved in the removal and clean-up of the practically shot appliances. However, I did have to track and comp a number of CG replacement snatcher elements onto Nicole Kidman’s perfectly smooth cheeks and hands – all without the aid of any tracking markers.

The CG elements that were ultimately provided did manage to get the matchmove in the general ballpark, which for wide-shots, wasn’t too problematic. But for the mid and close-ups, that was another story. Due to the scene’s dramatic requirements, Nicole was moving her head frantically, having just awoken from unconsciousness, panicked at the unknown state of her son.

Had this shot been done today, the matchmove probably would’ve been spot-on, thanks to a number of tracking software innovations. But when this film was made, it came down to brute force, as well as long hours, to get the tracks to stick, utilizing hand-animated countermoves and extensive bicubic warping.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer


FEATURE FILM
ROLE: Flame Artist | VFX Compositor
VENDOR: Hydraulx
CLIENT: Marvel Entertainment | 20th Century Fox
VFX SUPERVISOR: Jake Morrison
DIRECTOR: Tim Story

For the highly anticipated sequel to Marvel Entertainment’s “Fantastic Four,” I worked on a number of complex sequences, primarily consisting of Reed Richard’s bachelor party and his subsequent wedding to Sue Storm.

For the bachelor party, Reed’s encouraged by his fellow teammates to loosen up and have a good time. In his case, that means showing off his super-stretchy flexible dance moves, with twisting torso, and extending arms and legs. CG extensions and creative plate photography, as well as 2D deformations, made Reed the life of the party.

For the rooftop wedding, Sue takes center-stage, where she stops a renegade helicopter that tears through the seating arrangement. Shot practically, with a full size helicopter body on a hydraulic rig, this sequence required extensive clean-up to remove the rig and its track, as well as replace hundreds of chairs and rebuild portions of wedding guests, background buildings, and subsequent debris.

In addition to these more prominent sequences, I also composited the hero establishing shot of the CG Baxter building, some wide shots of the London Eye collapsing, a moment where Johnny Storm acquires Reed’s stretchy powers, and a fair amount of miscellaneous clean-up, roto, and, tracking.