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were then shipped to Melbourne, Australia, for "extensive rehearsals before the five- month shoot," he says. "There was a lot of collaboration with Spike as we built the suits, and we did use tracking markers on the heads in the end. And then Daniel ended up animating and manipulating the photographic textures on the faces that we made. So instead of creating a totally new 3D mesh and then mapping that onto the characters, it's more 2D. And it's a good thing we finished the heads as realistically as possible, as it was discussed at one point whether to just go with green heads, but we then went with the full photorealistic ap- proach." Summing up, Brooke says, "We cre- ated a visual effect in a sense, as it's not a traditional costume design. So I feel we're par t of the visual effects of bringing the creatures to life, and the result is this combi- nation of digital effects and our suits, which makes the whole thing work." And advances in VFX and digital anima- tion techniques are coming at warp speed. Even in a cheesy comedy with zero Oscar chances such as Land of the Lost, live actors shared screen time with animated dinosaurs whose photorealism now far surpasses their ancient (in terms of the evolution of digital effects) ancestors back in Jurassic Park V I S UA L E F F E C T S The huge box office of Transformers would be unthinkable without the spectacle of enormous robots bashing the pixels out of each other — the key attraction (Megan Fox notwithstanding) for its core audience of teenage boys. And the robots of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen — and those in Termina- tor Salvation — make their predecessors look stiff and stiff-jointed, even by robot standards. ILM's Scott Benza, the animation supervisor on the Transformers franchise (and animator on Iron Man) says, "We've made a lot of progress from the first Transformers movie in terms of being able to give the robots far more emotional range. We had about 450 digital animation shots — 100 more than the first, and 46 robots compared with just 14 in the first film, and the robots had a lot more dialogue and face-time, so we had to work on all the subtle nuances and details, and they all got big technical upgrades to cope with that."The resulting film is "definitely a hybrid," he adds, "as it mixes live action with visual ef- fects and animation, and in many ways it could be classified as a digital feature, a com- pletely computer-animated film." Avatar also looks certain to be nominated. Cameron worked closely with Weta's Joe Lettieri, senior visual effects supervisor, who is a three-time Oscar winner — for his visual effects work on the last two Lord of the Rings films and King Kong — and who was also nominated for I, Robot. He oversaw some 2,300 shots on Avatar, which, says Cameron, "Is really one big visual effects shot from start to finish. We also farmed out shots to ILM, Hydraulx and Framestore, to take the pres- sure off Weta, as it was such a big job." District 9 is also generating great buzz for its technical achievements. "We had 582 vi- sual effects shots — not a lot by a big-budget studio film standard, but a lot for a smaller budget," reports Vancouver-based Blomkamp. "We were helped a lot in post by the British Columbia tax rebate. Pete Jackson's Weta did the mothership and the little ships that crash, but all the rest were done in Vancouver. All the aliens were done here at Image Engine, who did about 70 percent of the effects F I L M S Hands down, the fastest, most affordable RAID solutions you can buy. January 2010 • Post 27 "After doing so many projects together we have a real shorthand," says Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie of his editor James Herbert, who are both likely to be in the running for Oscar. continued on page 44 The Road director John Hillcoat "wanted to use real landscapes and scenery wherever possible" in the film. Expect a Best Picture nomination. OSCAR PICKS

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