Jesus those giant eyes...

Behind the Scenes - VFX of 'Deadpool'

The text below was written by John Fusco at No Film School


It took the collaboration of several studios to pull off this year’s best visual effects.

Too often with recent entries into the superhero canon, it feels like we’re being ruthlessly beaten over the head by CGI effects. This year, Tim Miller’s Deadpool proved the rare exception. Watching the film, the VFX blend seamlessly into the action and go virtually unnoticed. And this wasn’t any accident.

Prior to his big screen debut in February, Miller’s day job had been running the VFX company Blur Studios with his friend and visual supervisor David Stinnett. The award-winning company is responsible for effects in projects ranging from the intergalactic sequences in Avatar, to critically acclaimed game trailers, to the abstract black-on-black opening titles inThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They even worked on a Disney Marvel movie before switching over to Fox, heading up the three-minute prologue sequence that sets the stage for Thor: The Dark World.

To put it simply, Miller knew how important the quality of the VFX would be to Deadpool’s success.

Miller valued the VFX of production so much that he knew he couldn’t pull it off alone. He brought together an all-star group of visual effects vendors, including Digital Domain (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Speed Racer), Luma Pictures (Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man), Rodeo FX (Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim), Ollin VFX (Her, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Image Engine (Jurassic World, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Atomic Fiction (The Walk, Stark Trek: Beyond) and Weta Digital (Batman vs. Superman, The BFG). Each of these vendors was then assigned various responsibilities while Blur Studios acted as the managerial hub. Weta, for example, was responsible for Deadpool’s face, while Atomic Fiction took on the highway chase scene in the beginning.

The studio attributes its success with the Deadpool sequence to a cloud rendering platform they developed in-house called Conductor. In an interview with Art of VFX, they explain:

“All of Atomic Fiction’s heavy rendering is done with ConductorIO, a cloud rendering platform we developed for internal use, and have since spun off as a stand-alone company. On Deadpool, 7 million core hours were rendered in the cloud. 80% of the rendering on Deadpool occurred in just 8 weeks of the 36-week schedule, with one single week accounting for about 20%. This really demonstrates how important it is to be able to scale resources up and down. Another way to look at it is that we would have needed a local render farm of around 32,000 cores to get through that one week. That’s a lot of horsepower for any size company, let alone a mid-sized studio like Atomic Fiction.”

On their company website, Atomic Fiction offers a beta version of the software which they define as “cloud rendering.”

“It encompasses the entire rendering workflow from end to end, managing uploads and downloads, queuing, security, and cloud resources with unmatched performance and efficiency,” the description reads. Some of the features include:

  • The most widely-used 2D & 3D applications supported
  • Scales massively; stays fast as workloads grow
  • Integrates into custom pipelines
  • Enterprise-grade cloud security from end to end
  • Real-time cost tracking and management
  • Automated data de-duplication for faster file transfers
  • State-of-the-art cloud technologies built in at the core level
  • Pay one all-inclusive price for what you use, by the minute
  • Improve productivity by 20%; reduce rendering costs by 50%

If you’re an aspiring VFX designer, you may want to register and check it out. For an even more intense breakdown of the highway chase scene, be sure and check out The Art of VFX’sinterview with Ryan Tudhope, Co-Founder & VFX Supervisor of Atomic Fiction.      

The Biz - Animators Don't Animate, Andy Serkis Does it All... Says the Serkis Clown

This guy is a piece of work. I will be surprised if he can staff his new project with the comments he makes in the press.  If you are a digital artist and accept a position on The Jungle Book remake for Warner Brothers, you have no reason to complain about being unappreciated, treated like a wrist or undermined for your efforts.  I understand animators do not win Oscars - actors do, but Serkis' understanding of how animation for a feature is created is NIL.  I am sure he will be schooled on his directorial debut. The amount of work done on Serkis' performances for all of his "mocrapped" movies will evidently stay under wraps until CG artist create a accurate behind the scenes documentary of what it takes to translate a captured performance of an actor into a believable performance on a digital puppet.

Quote below from io9

"It's a given that they absolutely copy [the performance] to the letter, to the point in effect what they are doing is painting digital makeup onto actors' performances. It's that understanding which has changed as much as anything."

More about his perspective on an animator's role on a mo-capped film at Cartoon Brew.


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Production Diary 13

Behind the Scenes - Peter Jackson’s Production Diary 13

Find out why Peter says that shooting parts of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is "just like I used to do in the old days, at home, on Super 8 camera." The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is in theaters on December 13.

Kim Graham Weta legs

Practical FX - Kim Graham’s Weta Legs

Interview on coilhouse with Kim Graham, a multi-talented artist/inventor from Seattle who was recently hired by Weta Workshop to do conceptual design work on the upcoming Hobbit films.

Weta mermaid

Practical FX - WETA Makes A Mermaid



When a 4-year-old boy approached her at the beach to ask why she had no legs, Nadya Vessey, a double-leg amputee, thought up a novel answer to satisfy the boy's curiosity.

A double amputee asks special effects company to make her a prosthetic tail.

She asked, "Have you heard of The Little Mermaid?" When the boy said yes, she replied: "I am a mermaid."

The little boy ran off to tell his father, who likely chuckled at his son's wild imagination.

But three years later, partly because of that young boy, Vessey is indeed something of a mermaid, fully-functional iridescent tail and all.

A few days after her encounter with the boy at the beach, mostly on a whim, the Auckland, New Zealand, woman searched the Internet for the Weta Workshop, an award-winning special effects company in nearby Wellington that has worked on the "Lord of the Rings," "King Kong," "The Chronicles of Narnia" and other blockbuster films.

Read More here...

and here...