Computer Graphics World

July/August 2014

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56 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 4 V I S U A L E F F E C T S isual effects in feature films typically take predict- able forms – environment replacements, set extensions, natural phenomena, destruc- tion, and CG creatures. For Universal Pictures' Lucy, French Director Luc Besson asked for more abstract effects than those usually seen in feature films. Besson is known in the visual effects world especially for The Fih Element, which re- ceived a BAFTA award for best special effects in 1998, and for his strong female protagonists. In this film, Scarlett Johans- son stars as Lucy, an unwitting drug mule carrying an implanted bag of experimental narcotics. When she's kicked in the gut in a Taiwan hotel room, the bag leaks and she begins hallucinating. The drug gives her seemingly limitless superintelligence and superpowers, which she har- nesses to take merciless revenge on the drug lords and to help a brain researcher (Morgan Free- man) understand the full power of a fully engaged brain. Nicolas Brooks, who received an Oscar for the painterly visual effects in What Dreams May Come, was senior visual effects supervisor for the film. Richard Bluff, who has headed the "gen- eralist" department at Industrial Light & Magic (formerly the digital matte-painting depart- ment) for the past seven years, was visual effects supervisor at that studio, which created the majority of the effects. Rodeo FX and Hatch Production also contributed effects to the film. Approximately 40 artists at ILM craed the inventive hallucinations and the halluci- natory effects Lucy sends into the real world. In addition, the studio hired two visionary artists specifically for this film: Mat- thias Müller and Perry Hall. The resulting effects shaped at ILM range from those depicting the interaction of the drug inside and on the surface of Lucy's body, to those she can shoot from her body, to time-traveling images that take Lucy back into early New York City, to the creation of planet Earth and deeper, all the way into a black hole. One of the first shots created at ILM shows a prehistoric human standing in a river, Lucy if you will, scooping drinking water with her hand. The actor playing prehistoric Lucy wore a hairy rubber suit on location. Artists at ILM replaced most of the actor with a CG character, but DIGITAL ARTISTS AT ILM CREATE MOVING ABSTRACT CG IMAGERY FOR LUC BESSON'S LATEST FEATURE FILM BY BARBARA ROBERTSON LUCY (SCARLETT JOHANSSON) USES HER SUPER, DRUG-INDUCED INTELLIGENCE TO EXTEND TENDRILS OUT FROM HER BODY. ILM GEN- ERATED PROCEDURAL INSTANCES OF PRIMITIVES TO CREATE THE TENDRILS. Images ©2014 Universal Pictures

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