VFX, sound effects & technological enhancements have become an integral part of film making. With every passing success, directors are becoming more bold & experimental in using these techniques to bring their imagination to screen. As the year comes to a close, we take a look at 2014’s best VFX use in both Hollywood & Bollywood.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The movie starts from where The Avengers ended. Captain America teams up with other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to uncover a series of plots & conspiracies to fight the enemies. And the VFX team lived up to the expectations.
The movie used more than 2500 VFX shots. This work was broken down between a host of VFX houses such as ILM, Scanline, Trixter, Rise & Luma. Digital doubles were also used in order to build detailed images. Photo shoots & digital scans were done with the lead actors in full costumes for this purpose. Computer generated Helicarrier resembled a warship that carries battleship-sized gun but flies in the air. As there was a large part of the story set in Washington DC, it was not always possible to shoot in the city due to it being a ‘No Fly Zone’ & cameras were not allowed. As a result, Washington DC was created mostly using CG.
Source: Marvel Entertainment
Godzilla returned this year to the big screen & in style. The movie highlighted the effectiveness of VFX technology & sound effects. The recreation of the non-existent monster, and the destruction caused by its rampage on the city was a huge task. But the VFX team handled it seamlessly, earning it a nomination at the upcoming Oscars.
MPC was the lead studio to bring the creature to life. Detailed work was done for seven months on the creature itself. The movement of the creature, the gaze, the walk & the attack mode was done by taking references from various reptiles & animals. The destruction of the city of San Francisco was shown in detail with dust flying, wind blowing & buildings collapsing. The entire city was created using CGI, which gave the director enough control over the creature, it movements & actions.
Interstellar (Hollywood 2014)
Talking of VFX in 2014, how can we not mention the recent hit, Interstellar. This mind-boggling space time adventure directed by Chris Nolan has raised the bar for sci-fi movies. Chris Nolan effectively used the art of storytelling, combined it with excellent VFX & special effects to create a memorable movie experience.
The VFX was done by Double Negative. Separate teams of special effects & visual effects artists worked together to bring this sci-fi thriller to life. The creation of the black hole & the worm hole were the most convincing as no one knows how they work, except assumption & theories from Physicists. Nolan insisted on not having too many green screens. The special effects team put up a minimum required prop for the scene so that the actors knew how they have to react & not work entirely on imagination. Undoubtedly, one of the top contenders at the Oscars.
Source: Warner Bros. UK
A Disney fairytale but not what we have come to expect. This was not the story of Sleeping Beauty but of Maleficent, the fairy turned witch who cursed her. Going by Disney standards & the demands of the story, it was expected that the SFX & VFX results would be of the highest standard. And we were not disappointed.
Digital Domain was the production house hired for their VFX expertise. They had previously worked on Thor in 2011. Portraying Maleficent with wings & horns throughout the movie was the responsibility of the VFX studio. Angelia Jolie pulled off a stunning performance & added an extra bit of charm & magic to her already blooming persona on screen. The landscape, the rocky terrain, the forest & the river, all were generated using different software’s like Maya & Houdini. The combination of VFX & live shoot is so smooth that one would be forced to believe that such a place & people do exist in the real world.
Source: Disney Movie Trailers
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Talk about special effects & one name that springs to mind is the Transformers series. The successful franchise has earned millions of dollars & lots of awards. Making the robots come to life, a free will, battle between good & evil set on planet Earth in the heart of the city, required a lot of work & dedication.
Developed by ILM, the movie set out with the director’s object to start a new story with new lead actors & new robots aligning with a few old ones. The important aspect was combining the special effects on set with live shoot along with the VFX. Even though the giant bots would get damaged, the team worked round the clock for it to be ready for another shot. The most appreciated characters were Dinobots, which resembled & behaved like dinosaurs but were made of metal, nuts & bolts. The big ship was designed to look different from the ones seen earlier.
Source: MOVIECLIPS Trailers
X-Men: Days of the Future Past
Super powers & super heroes; past, present & future, all in one movie. What more can an enthusiastic VFX team ask for. The story is set in a time when the mutants join forces with their past & future selves to prevent their extinction & global calamity.
Once again, MPC came up with great work on the characters & the sets. They created the future sequence & were lauded for their version of Xavier’s world complete with gadgets & transportation. The movie was critically acclaimed & was the highest grosser of the series. The exquisite battle scenes in Moscow & the monastery in China with the Himalayan landscape provided artistic touch to the movie.
Source: X-Men Movies
Guardians of the Galaxy
A film very different from other super hero movies, here space criminals join forces to fight against their common enemy & save the galaxy from being destroyed. The idea does sound exciting but requires a lot of special effect & VFX to create a world different from anything ever seen on the big screen.
Another feather in MPC’s cap, the development of SFX & VFX for this movie provided massive entertainment to the audience. One of the very important aspects was the construction of different plants, their terrain, spaceships, and special characters with special powers. The most important aspect was to give each clan their own identity & design things according to their specification. The movie was a testimony of the hard work of the director & the artists who created compelling imagery & scenes. The movie was a massive hit & is in the Oscar run.
Source: Marvel UK
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
This movie revolved around the ruling class of apes & the human survivors where they ensue in a battle to decide the dominant species on the planet. This movie was a bigger hit than its predecessor. This one required more of SFX & VFX as now the story was from the point of view of the apes who had taken over the city.
WETA Digital took the helms for this project. They worked with the construction of the city, battles, & the character of the apes. For the ape movement & emotional expressions, they focussed more on motion capture. They would work with the actors & later adjust the shots with the help of VFX. Combination of SFX & VFX proved much easier when it came to editing & post production of the movie.
Source: 20th Century Fox UK
A famous Biblical story was coming to the screen. Undoubtedly, this meant that the presentation would have to be grand & magnanimous like the event itself. In keeping with the larger-than-life nature of the story, Darren Aronofsky, the director of the film, envisioned animals to be different than their present day successors.
ILM had this massive project in hand to come up with the best they could to prove that their technology could match up to the biblical proportions of the event. The creation of the Ark, the flood, the animals, the forest, the stone giants; everything was specific & served their purpose. Even though the film didn’t make it big commercially, it was appreciated for its sheer portrayal of events & the VFX work.
Source: Paramount Movies
Unlike Hollywood, Bollywood may not still be depending on VFX or SFX for an entire movie. However, they manage to use VFX effectively in parts to make the movies real & extravagant. Some Bollywood films that effectively used VFX & SFXinclude:
Hrithik Roshan & Karina Kaif starred in this action-adventure film. The VFX team took its work a notch higher. Most of the action scenes were done & enhanced with VFX shots. Fox Studios from L.A. was responsible for it. The songs also used SFX & VFX to make them look more glamorous.
A biopic of the five time national boxing champion & an Olympic medallist Mary Kom, Priyanka Chopra starred in the lead role. Although Chopra underwent extensive training for the film & shot for all scenes on her own, there were places where VFX helped her enhance her performance. The boxing scenes were enhanced using VFX & made to look more dramatic.
Red Chillies Entertainment was responsible for the VFX of the film. In certain scenes, Chopra used prosthetic make-up to match the looks of Kom. Yet, the team relied on VFX to make her look more authentic in her role of the Manipuri boxer. The movie was a critical & commercial success.
Source: Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Happy New Year
Farah Khan has a flair for melodrama, exaggerated comedy & extreme action sequences, combined with the razzmatazz of elaborate dance sequences. Happy New Year was no different. VFX enhanced most of the action & dance sequences in the movie. Most of the lead characters were introduced with the use of VFX & set the tone for their character throughout the movie.
Once again, Red Chillies Entertainment was responsible for the VFX. Hugely entertaining & a massive success, the movie was critically panned.
Horror is a genre that Indian films tend to shy away from. However, Creature 3D was an exception. Moreover, it did not rely on sound & light effects alone; it made effective use of VFX. Contrary to expectations, the movie made profits at the box office. It revolved around the coming to life of a mythical horror creature that devours people.
Prasad EFX effectively brought the mythical monster to the screen, along with all the scenes of attack & destruction. As compared the budget spent on VFX by big studios, the 3D & effects in this movie was achieved on a miniscule budget. It was appreciated by everyone who watched it even though it was not a runaway success. Critically acclaimed & an average hit that managed to entertain audience with a new monster in the horror film category.
Singham Returns (Bollywood 2014)
Rohit Shetty is known for over the top action sequences & exaggerated story lines. Singham Returns was another one in the same style. Although, some have come to criticise his work, one cannot ignore the fact that he is definitely amongst the front runners when it comes to the use of VFX in movies.
Reliance MediaWorks supervised the operation of VFX & SFX and delivered it beautifully. The movie was a massive success & critically acclaimed for the story line & direction.
Source: Reliance Entertainment
Do you have a favourite that we have missed on our list? Tell us below in the comment box.