vfx
Posts

  • A Talk with the VFX Artists Behind ‘Sharknado’

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    A storm whipped through the New York Film Academy Theatre last week—a combination of wind, water and sharks, known by the title Sharknado. After the screening, NYFA students welcomed Emmy Winning VFX Artist Glenn Campbell and VFX Supervisor Joseph Lawson from “The Asylum” Studio. NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki moderated the event.

    sharknado

    NYFA Animation Chair Mark Sawicki with VFX Supervisor Joseph Lawson and Emmy Winning VFX Artist Glenn Campbell

    Sharknado was a made-for-TV disaster film produced between the SyFy Channel and “The Asylum” Studio. Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante and starring Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, and John Heard, the film has been a cult sensation since its release, spawning a franchise that includes three sequels (the fourth installment will be coming out this summer, titled Sharknado: The 4th Awakens).

    Following the screening, Glenn Campbell and Joseph Lawson showed a reel featuring shots from the movie before and after the visual effects were added, with their own personal commentary on the process. They showed scenes from the first three films in the Sharknado franchise.

    Campbell and Lawson explained that visual effects aren’t just for storms featuring murderous aquatic creatures—it’s for things as simple as turning a blue sky into a stormy sky, or removing satellite dishes from houses.

    sharknado picture

    They both agreed that planning was a very important part of the process—making sure that all necessary shots are taken, knowing what you want before you start setting up. “Don’t change your mind so much,” they advised.

    They also spoke to the importance of things like storyboards to help with planning and getting the best performance out of the actors. “It’s a challenge…nothing can replace the tangible, someone holding something in their hands.”

    Finally, a student asked them if there is, or should be, a limit with visual effects. “There is no limit,” they responded. With enough time and creativity, anything that one could imagine is possible with visual effects.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 11, 2016 • 3D Animation, Guest Speakers • Views: 5394

  • Mindfruit Studio Stops in at NYFA’s Stop Motion Class

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    mindfruit

    Last week New York Film Academy’s 3D Animation and VFX students got to meet and talk with Damon Stea and Cassandra Chowdhury, the dynamic duo who run Mindfruit Studios.

    Mindfruit is a Los Angeles-based team with the goal of creating diverse, unique, and beautiful videos. Fantastical costumes, puppets, and stop motion are their bread and butter. They’ve worked on everything from a video billboard for Forever 21 to a film shot entirely on a computer scanner. Their work has been featured at South by Southwest, Vimeo Film Fest, the Disposable Film Fest, and on screens around the globe.

    Not only did the students of Matthew B.W. Sheehan’s stop motion class get to pick Damon and Cassandra’s brains about all things stop motion, they even received help wrestling some deeper questions when 3D Animation BFA Jessica Chung asked about the do’s and don’ts of freelance work and making your first deal.

    All in all, a victory for education at the New York Film Academy.

    -Matthew B.W. Sheehan

    Professor of Animation and VFX

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 5, 2016 • 3D Animation, Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 3911

  • VFX Oscar Winner Ian Hunter Speaks on “Interstellar” at NYFA

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    ian hunter

    “Interstellar” VFX Supervisor Ian Hunter

    New York Film Academy students in Los Angeles had a glimpse into the new dimensions of filmmaking with a screening of Interstellar and the subsequent presentation by VFX supervisor and Oscar winner Ian Hunter, co-owner of New Deal studios. The film event was reminiscent of Star Wars screenings in the 70s with a line stretching out down the long hall in front of the NYFA Theater and around the corner!

    After the screening, Ian gave a brilliant PowerPoint presentation giving a rare behind-the-scenes look at the making of the epic film. He related that the models were built at a massive 1/5 scale and shot with high resolution Vista Vision film cameras running at 72 frames per second to create the majestic imagery. Miniature explosions, rotating rigs, special light sources and tons of in camera VFX work were the primary techniques. Only one green screen shot was used in the entire film.

    hunter sawicki

    NYFA LA Chair Mark Sawicki with VFX Oscar Winner Ian Hunter

    At the end of Ian’s presentation, chair of animation Mark Sawicki spoke with him to reflect on the modern shooting methodology used for the tentpole picture. Ian shared that unlike many productions, the pre viz of the film was used as a starting point and not a locked down template. Director Christopher Nolan, in his wisdom, knew that the final models photographed in real light would give rise to different and better ideas spring boarded from the pre viz. As a result, shots were not shot to the frame but as full takes, as if shooting live action, giving editing options later on. The process points out the proper use of pre viz as a starting point, thereby allowing the iterative filmmaking process to continue yielding happy accidents and lightning in a bottle. Mr. Hunter shared that pictures done in the 90s such as From the Earth to the Moon had 10% miniature and 90% digital effects, whereas Insterstellar reversed the equation with 90% of the imagery executed with real world miniatures to a stunning effect.

    mark sawicki

    At this time Mark pointed out Ian’s groundbreaking involvement as a director in the new immersive cinema experience of Cinema VR where audiences witness the photoplay in a full 360 degree panorama. This new miracle of the screen is tantamount to adding to the cinema language itself. Ian made note that while takes are much longer when using this process, cuts are possible and sound cues and other techniques can be used to direct the audience’s attention. Mark could not think of a better person than Ian to take on and develop this exciting new art form. Ian’s film Kaiju Fury was shown at Sundance’s new frontier category launching the spectacular screen spectacle.

    Thank you, Mr. Hunter, for shedding light on your process and guiding us to the next dimension of movie making!

    sawicki hunter

    NYFA LA Chair of Animation Mark Sawicki with Ian Hunter

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 27, 2015 • 3D Animation, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 5989

  • Love and Business Blossom at NYFA

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
    StratoSpace

    Helena Hilario and Mario Pece

    After working post-production in New York City and Los Angeles for five years on projects like Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New York Film Academy graduates, Helena Hilario (Producing) and Mario Pece (Directing) have decided to explore other opportunities in the Brazilian market by starting their own business. Their company, StratoStorm, will focus on developing visual effect sequences for commercials, films, television, music videos and digital projects for creative advertising agencies, production companies, and talented directors.

    “There is a demand in Brazil for VFX for advertising, television and films,” says Helena Hilario. “We wanted to bring our experience from Hollywood to Brazil.”

    Helena and Mario have invested in a state-of-the-art studio in São Paulo, equipped with workstations and render farms. Their remote-based workflow system allows them to work with clients and artists from around the world while residing in the tropical Brazilian countryside.

    Thus far, StratoStorm has hit the ground running, as they’re currently working on a TV commercial for Combatant Gentlemen, which will air in the United States. They are also creating visual effects for the Brazilian feature film Jonas e a Baleia, directed by Lô Politi, set to premiere in movies theaters in South America in the beginning of next year.

    Helena and Mario met while attending NYFA. From there, they developed a life-long relationship both personally and professionally. Helena had been working as a line producer at Academia de Filmes, one of Brazil’s largest production companies, until she decided to move to New York to learn about the movie business. “It was my dream to attend NYFA, I always heard about the great programs, excellent teachers and impeccable reputation of NYFA. When I found out about the Producing program, I had no doubts that it would be one of the best experiences of my life.”

    Following her studies at NYFA, Helena worked in NYC at Downtown Reel, a production company which specialized in TV commercials for foreign markets. After that, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was hired to work on the production team at KGB, a boutique, independent production company based on the legendary Paramount Studios lot in the heart of Hollywood. In mid 2013, she joined the team at Ingenuity Engine as a VFX Executive Producer and New Business Development. There she worked with various ad agencies and production companies.

    Helena’s partner, Mario Pece left Italy in 2008 to attend the 8-Week Directing Program. While enrolled, he directed several shorts films and decided to continue his education in the One-Year Directing Program. His focus was primarily on creating innovative and unique ways to incorporate VFX into his storytelling. After graduating, Mario became the lead VFX artist at Ingenuity Engine, an award winning VFX studio creating VFX for numerous clients such as Doritos, Reebok, Callaway, Jello, UFC and Virgin Holidays. For television, they produced the visual effects for TV shows Parks & Recreation, Happy Endings and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Winner of Best Comedy at the Golden Globes 2014) and award-winning music videos. One of the music videos, Katie Perry’s Wide Awake, was nominated at the 2012 VMA’s for Best Visual Effects.

    “Our training at NYFA was definitely very important for our careers,” said Helena. “We created hundreds of projects from concept to delivery, including the award-winning trailer for the suspense thriller Out of Home, starring Patrick Boll.”

    Helena and Mario encourage talented visual effects artists and freelancers to send his or her reel to StratoStorm at info@stratostorm.com.

    Mario Pece Reel 2014 from StratoStorm on Vimeo.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    October 22, 2014 • 3D Animation, Filmmaking, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 8296