Effects gurus try to make it real, not just rendered

Image is everything at Edit event

Sure, the visual effects industry can pull off just about anything these days, but can they make it look real?

That's the challenge effects artists face in today's environment, Industrial Light + Magic visual effects supervisor John Knoll said Monday at the Edit Filmmakers Festival here.

"Technology has evolved to a point where there are not a whole lot of limits to what can be depicted. The limitations I see are mostly in terms of how successful the efforts are in realism," said Knoll, who presented a look at the making of Walt Disney Pictures' "Pirates of the Caribbean" films before a standing-room-only crowd in the Cinestar Metropolis theater. "The gamut of things that can come out of a render are extremely large, and the gamut of things that actually look like photography are smaller. Currently, the only thing that forces imagery to stay in the shared boundaries of those two gamuts is just the human eye."

He added: "I'm looking for more assistance from computers to make sure the results look physically realistic. I think that's also true for motion and a variety of other areas. Computing power is increasing."

Knoll reviewed "Pirates" effects work including the ships, the CG Davy Jones and the maelstrom in the climatic scene from "At World's End." He reported that the third "Pirates" film involved the completion of more than 2,000 visual effects shots in an extremely tight 41/2 month schedule.

During another session, ILM technical direction supervisor Hilmar Koch presented a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Paramount/DreamWorks' "Transformers."

Koch dissected the making of the robots in the film, which in some cases involved more than 18,000 moving parts and thousands of texture maps — which he likened to "thousands of digital paint jobs."

Monday's program concluded with a preview of Niama Film's "The Red Baron," directed by Niki Mullerschon. Visual effects supervisor Rainer Gombos reported that the English-language production included roughly 400 visual effects shots.
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