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The best of the best: The SP-FX houses (1 Viewer)

Kevin Grey

Senior HTF Member
May 20, 2003
Are you sure that ILM is the lead on Harry Potter? From listening to a VFX podcast about it I got the impression that an England-based studio was lead with work farmed out to lots of different houses including ILM.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
I was under the impression that ILM served as lead FX house for HP5. I know that Baseblack, Cinesite, MPC, and various other houses did work on the movie as well as ILM. I could be wrong, but I thought ILM served as lead. Whatever the case may be, I'm in total agreement with Tim that HP5 had the best FX work yet of the Harry Potter franchise.

The FX work in "Sunshine" was more seamless than many other FX flicks this year, but as Chuck pointed out, not a lot of people have seen it. Still, while "Transformers" is getting all the glory, Davy Jones still remains the measuring stick for which other CG characters are going to be judged by from here on out in my opinion. ILM really raised the bar with Jones, despite what Michael Bay says. ;)

Tim Glover

Senior HTF Member
Jan 12, 1999
Monroe, LA
Real Name
Tim Glover
Well, Michael Bay is saying alot of things lately ;)

One shouldn't be surprised but in some ways I am-of how inconsistent some films are with FX. Not just from film to film but there are moments in King Kong for example that aren't that good, but then there's Kong. Wow. Big Wow. Spidey 3 just misfired on me so much that I was looking at the FX on my watch rather than the screen. :P

5 years ago we had Yoda in AOTC, & Gollum in TTT. Both solid entries...until one sees Davy Jones and thinks, man how did they do that.

Cameron's Avatar should be exhilirating. JC has that rare knack to mix 1st rate FX with 1st rate story/directing.

I know I'm rambling here but for me & it's probably not fair, but it's hard to take a film's quality or lack of out the equation when judging these things. When a film just misses and doesn't connect, I REALLY notice flaws or fakiness of the effects. When I'm connecting, those things blend in...

Kevin Grey

Senior HTF Member
May 20, 2003
According to Wikipedia, Double Negative was the lead effects house on HP5, doing 950 of 1400 shots. That matches with what I heard before. ILM did the dementor effects IIRC, which is strange because I thought they were much worse than their appearance in HP3 but that might have just been due to the design change.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_P... isual_effects

Dennis Pagoulatos

Supporting Actor
Feb 3, 1999
Real Name
Going way back to the first post of the thread...a minor correction.

The Planet P. attack in Starship Troopers and basically all shots with the bugs in that movie were done by Phil Tippett Studios, not ILM. Pioneering and stunning work to say the least- it's amazing how well SST effects hold up 10 years later. I wonder if PTS still exists, or if they went under- they certainly kicked the industry's ass with their work in that film- which, at the time, was easily the most believable CG ever put to film IMO- and much of it done in broad daylight! :)



Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
Kevin, thanks for the clarification.

Dennis, PTS does still exist. They are among the FX houses doing work on the upcoming films "Enchanted", "The Golden Compass", and "The Spiderwick Chronicles".

Tim, I'm totally with you on your assessment of Davy Jones, as well as James Cameron's upcoming "Avatar". Some have already conceded Weta the '09 FX Oscar based on the reputations of both the director and the FX house.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
Looks like SPI will be the principle FX company on the upcoming "Justice League" movie. Weta, Animal Logic, and other houses are currently bidding on various shots of the movie, but SPI will handle the majority of the work.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
The Academy has revealed the final seven films that will be vying for the three slots in the Best Visual Effects category. The chosen seven are...

"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"Evan Almighty"
"The Golden Compass"
"I Am Legend"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

The VES (Visual Effects Society) also announced their nominations. "Transformers" earned the most nods, follow the link to check out the rest of the nomiees...


Chuck Mayer

Senior HTF Member
Aug 6, 2001
Northern Virginia
Real Name
Chuck Mayer
Thoughts on the nominees:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Picture:
I Am Legend
The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End
Spider Man 3

I prefer Pirates, but it'll be seen as something already done. TF is new. It'll win.

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture:
Kite Runner
We Own the Night
Blades of Glory

Only saw two of these, but Zodiac has exceptional effects...the very definition of this award.

Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
Transfromers - Desert Highway Sequence
Pirates of the Caribbean - Jack and Davy Duel
300 - Crazy Horse sequence
Surf's Up - Riding the Visual Effects Tube
Spiderman 3 - Birth of Sandman

The Crazy Horse effect is one of my very favorites...I love watching it (although it uses a lot of camera trickery as well to work). But the birth of Sandman sequence is also brilliant.

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture:
Spiderman3 - Sandman
Waterhorse - Carusoe
Pirates of the Caribbean - Davy Jones
Enchanted - Pip
Transformers - Optimus Prime
I Am Legend - Infected Leader




Seriously. Davy Jones should walk with this.

Outstanding Animated Character in an animated feature:
Surf's Up - Chicken Joe
Shrek 3 - King Harold
Beowulf - Beowulf
Surf's Up - Cody
Ratatouille - Collette

Overall, Pixar's animation efforts in Ratatouille obliterate the competition. But I thought Beowulf was fantastic. Many of the rest of the characters in the film, not so much. Beowulf himself was amazing, though.

Outstanding effects in an animated motion picture
Shrek the Third
Ratatouille - food
Surf's Up
Ratatouille - rapids

The rapids were more visceral and immediate, but I was amazed by the food. A much bigger accomplishment, imo.

Outstanding Created environment in a motion picture:
Sweeney Todd - the old bailey
Pirates of the Caribbean - The Maelstrom
Zodiac - Washington and Cherry
Harry Potter - Hall of Prophecy
Rush Hour 3
I Am Legend - Times Square Hunt

Only saw four of those. I did love the Times Square stuff.

Outstanding models or miniatures in a motion picture:
Pirates of the Caribbean - practical and digital ships
Live Free Or Die Hard - freeway sequence
Harry Potter -Hogwarts
Spiderman3 - building crane destruction

Got to go with Hogwarts or the Pirate Ships...but that's my love of the design more than the execution :)

I thought it was a good year for VFX. Some very strong efforts, and a greater tie between the technical and artistic sides of the craft (especially in Pirates). I am depressed that Sunshine wasn't anywhere on the list. I would have picked it for a few things. Nice to see Zodiac on the list.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
ILM earned their 37th and 38th Oscar nods this morning for their work on "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Transformers". The third nod for Best FX went to the combined work of Rythm & Hues, Framestore, and Cinesite for "The Golden Compass".

"Transformers" looks to be the early favorite for the award, which would earn ILM their 16th Oscar for Best Visual FX.

Given how Pirates and "Transformers" dominated the VES nominations, it should come as no great surprise that the battle for the Oscar would come down between them, although "The Golden Compass" could pull an upset (although its highly unlikely at this point).


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
Visual Effects Society winners announced...

Los Angeles, February 11, 2008 – The VES Awards were given out last night
during the Visual Effects Society’s (VES) sixth annual gala event at the Kodak
Theatre Grand Ballroom in Hollywood. The sold-out event attracted more than a
thousand visual effects and animation artists, dozens of nominees and members
of the film, television, commercial and video game industries. During the
evening, filmmaker Steven Spielberg received the VES Lifetime Achievement
Award in recognition of his contribution to the art and science of visual effects.
“The work we celebrated tonight is a testament to the crucial role the talent,
knowledge and experience visual effects artists play in the storytelling process.
Because visual effects “geeks' are at the cutting edge of technology, they are
also at the cutting edge of entertainment as well,” says Eric Roth, VES Executive
Director. “I think it is remarkably appropriate that we awarded our highest honor –
the VES Lifetime Achievement Award -- to Steven Spielberg, because he is not
only one of the greatest storytellers of our time, he is also an honorary technogeek
for us tonight.”

And the winners are:

Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture
Scott Farrar
Shari Hanson
Russell Earl
Scott Benza

Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
Michael Fong
Apurva Shah
Christine Waggoner
Michael Fu

Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or Special
"Battlestar Galactica – Razor"
Mike Gibson
Gary Hutzel
Sean Jackson
Pierre Drolet

Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
"Fight for Life – Episode 4"
Philip Dobree
Nicola Instone
Marco Iozzi
Matt Chandler

Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Rome 2 – Episode 6 – "Philippi"
James Madigan
Barrie Hemsley
Duncan Kinnard
Gary Brozenich

Visual Effects in a Commercial
Smirnoff "Sea"
William Bartlett
Scott Griffin
Dan Seddon
David Mellor

Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
"Transformers" (Desert highway sequence)
Scott Farrar
Shari Hanson
Shawn Kelly
Michael Jamieson

Real Time Visuals in a Video Game
Halo 3
Marcus Lehto
Jonty Barnes
Stephen Scott
CJ Cowan

Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game
"World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade"
Jeff Chamberlain
Scott Abeyta

Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
"Sea Monsters"
Sean Phillips
Jack Geist
Robin Aristorenas
Mark Dubeau

Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (Davy Jones)
Hal Hickel
Marc Chu
Jakub Pistecky
Maia Kayser

Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture
"Ratatouille" (Colette)
Janeane Garofalo
Jamie Landes
Sonoko Konishi
Paul Aichele

Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program or Commercial
Chemical Brothers "Salmon Dance"
Nicklas Andersson
Mike Mellor
Sylvain Marc
Florent DeLa Taille

Effects in an Animated Motion Picture
"Ratatouille" (food)
Jon Reisch
Jason Johnston
Eric Froemling
Tolga Göktekin

Created Environment in a Live Action Motion Picture
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" (the Maelstrom)
Frank Losasso Petterson
Paul Sharpe
Joakim Arnesson
David Meny

Created Environment in a Live Action Broadcast Program or Commercial
"Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee"
Phi Tran
Matthew Lee
Martin Hilke
Justin Mitchell

Models or Miniatures in a Motion Picture
Dave Fogler
Ron Woodall
Alex Jaeger
Brian Gernand

Models or Miniatures in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
"Halo 3/Believe Campaign"
Matthew Gratzner
Alan Scott
Seth Curlin
Greg Boettcher

Compositing in a Motion Picture
Pat Tubach
Beth D'Amato
Todd Vaziri
Mike Conte

Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Nike "Leave Nothing"
James Allen
Rob Trent

Special Effects in a Motion Picture
"Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix"
John Richardson
Stephen Hamilton
Richard Farns
Stephen Hutchinson

Special Effects in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Lexus Hydrant "Actively Safe"
Dave Peterson
Anthony De La Cruz


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
The likely nominees so far this year seem to be "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "Iron Man". No telling what will earn the third slot.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 12, 2001
(from the Rotten Tomatoes site)


RenderMan, a piece of software created by those masters at Pixar, revolutionised computer-generated special effects when it was originally released 20 years ago this year. Designed to take the information in a CG file and "render" it into an image, the software made the creation of visual effects an art limited only by imagination.

"At [the time of RenderMan's release] CG was nowhere in the special effects business," Pixar's co-founder and president Ed Catmull told The Hollywood Reporter, who published a feature on the software's anniversary today. The feature, which explains the history of the software in more detail, includes a timeline explaining the product's milestones.

From infancy in 1985's Young Sherlock Holmes - the first use of the name "RenderMan" didn't happen until the product matured in 1988 - right up to this year's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, WALL-E and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, RenderMan has been an essential part of the summer season for its entire lifespan.

To further celebrate 20 years of RenderMan, RT scoured Pixar's own list of movies that have employed RenderMan to pick 20 visual classics - in chronological order - that wouldn't exist today were it not for the software's creation...

#1 “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)
#2 “Jurassic Park” (1993)
#3 “Toy Story” (1995)
#4 “Titanic” (1997)
#5 “The Matrix” (1999)
#6 “Gladiator” (2000)
#7 “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” (2001)
#8 “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)
#9 “Finding Nemo” (2003)
#10 “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)
#11 “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)
#12 “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)
#13 “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004)
#14 “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
#15 “Batman Begins” (2005)
#16 “War of the Worlds” (2005)
#17 “King Kong” (2005)
#18 “Sunshine” (2007)
#19 “Beowulf” (2007)
#20 “Wall-E” (2008)

Agree or disagree with this list?

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