Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Jaws" De-Dioptered

direct YouTube link

Over on Twitter, we have fun pointing out split diopter shots in movies; shots that contain two fields of focus, allowing an extreme foreground object and a background object to simultaneously be sharp. Filmmakers like Brian DePalma and Steven Spielberg use the split diopter as a way of visually connecting foregrounds and backgrounds. It's supposed to be jarring, a little disorienting, and off-putting.

But some people absolutely hate the effect for that reason. (Monsters, all of them.) So I thought it would be fun to start removing the split diopter lens effects from movies, just to see how the scenes would play with more traditional depth-of-field. I started with "Jaws" (1975).

After finding all the split diopter shots in the film, I took each shot into Adobe After Effects and split up the frame into a foreground and a background by rotoscoping certain foreground shapes, and applied focus effects to simulate traditional depth of field. In some cases I had to do some background restoration (painting additional bits of background) to help sell the effect. In most shots I applied a rack focus in the shot from foreground to background (or vice-versa), based on the timing of the dialogue. Since the film was shot with anamorphic lenses, I made sure to use anamorphic-shaped bokehs, and also added the irregular lens breathing associated with these lenses that you see with dramatic focus changes.

This was a fun exercise. It's always a blast to see one of your favorite films from a slightly tweaked perspective.

As a bonus, here is a side-by-side comparison of the original split diopter shots, next to my traditional depth-of-field versions of those same shots.

direct YouTube link

If you want to learn more about the technique, read Cheating Depth: The Magic of Split Diopter Shots by my buddy Tad Leckman.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

91st Academy Award Nominees for Visual Effects

The nominees for the 91st Academy Awards have been announced. As always, the nominees were determined by the visual effects branch of the Academy after attending a bake-off of 10 films.  The full Academy membership will vote on the winners of each category.  The awards ceremony will take place on February 24, 2019.

Here are the nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects for the 91st Academy Awards. Congratulations to everyone involved in the creation of these amazing images.

Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl, Dan Sudick

Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones, Chris Corbould

Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles, J.D. Schwalm

Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Mattew E. Butler, David Shirk

Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, Dominic Tuohy

Monday, January 21, 2019

Visual Effects Bake-Off for the 91st Academy Awards

Visual Effects Branch Academy Governors John Knoll, Craig Barron and Richard Edlund talk to the “Solo” visual effects leadership team Pat Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Rob Bredow (Dominic Tuohy not pictured) at the Academy VFX Bake-Off. 

Some quick thoughts about the visual effects Academy Bake-Off which took place on January 5, 2019.

First and foremost, it was a super fun night and the work that was presented was jaw-dropping. The work being done by our industry is astounding. Films that didn't even make the Bake-Off might have won the Oscar just a few years ago.

As a reminder, here were the list of 20 films that qualified to be in the Bake-Off, as chose by the VFX Academy branch's executive committee: Ant-Man 2, Aquaman, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Bumblebee, Chistopher Robin, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, First Man, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Mary Poppins Returns, Mission: Impossible - Fallout, Mortal Engines, Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Paddington 2, A Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Solo and Welcome to Marwen.

Going to the bake-off (again, determined by the executive committee) was Ant-Man 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Chistopher Robin, First Man, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Mary Poppins Returns, Ready Player One, Solo and Welcome to Marwen.

The new format changes are great. The first presenter can introduce their work while a reel of 'breakdown' or before/afters plays on the screen behind them. Then the 10-minute reel of finished work (with audio), then the three governors (Barron, Knoll, Edlund) ask questions of the four presenters per-film, and take questions from the Academy branch members. It's much more casual and fun than previous formats, and the inclusion of before/after material is vitally important and a huge improvement.

Finally, instead of Academy members voting in-person moments after the event, voting now takes place online. The event was also live-streamed to San Francisco, London and Wellington. These are also great improvements.

I'm going to quickly go through the films that presented at the Bake-Off, which presented in alphabetical order, none in 3-D.

πŸŽ₯ Ant-Man 2: The work is incredibly well-done and consistent-the reel played very well. The youth work on Michelle Pfeiffer is remarkable.
πŸŽ₯ Avengers Infinity: Crazy reel, everyone was wowed by Thanos work. Only 80 shots in the film were not touched by visual effects.
πŸŽ₯ Black Panther: Emphasis on the beautiful Wakanda environments, every single shot in the movie touched by visual effects.
πŸŽ₯ ChristopherRobin: super subtle, effective animation, great integration of first-unit camera work. Very impressive.
πŸŽ₯ First Man: Leaned hard on miniatures and the wonderful projection work. Restoration/re-working of real launch footage was cool.
πŸŽ₯ Jurassic World FK: Dinos look so good, different approach with stand-in dinos on set, practical roller coaster is so cool.
πŸŽ₯ Mary Poppins R: Integration of live-action/CG/traditional animation was huge, director eschewed digital doubles, heavy wire-work.,
πŸŽ₯ ReadyPlayerOne: The volume of work is astounding, audible gasps for The Shining presentation.
πŸŽ₯ Solo: Emphasis on the rear projection work providing imagery and lighting in extensive cockpit sequences, reel was super fun.
πŸŽ₯ Welcome to Marwen: Greatly benefited from before/after introduction, helped us understand the very difficult design/execution process, fun self-aware presentation.

Of the ten films that presented at the:
🍿7/10 are sequels or part of cinematic universes
🍿1/10 based on classic Disney character
🍿1/10 based on real events
🍿1/10 based on documentary

πŸ§‘πŸ½Special effects supervisor Dan Sudick is a potential nominee for THREE films this year (Ant Man 2, Avengers IW, Black Panther)
πŸ§‘πŸ½Creature effects supervisor Neal Scanlan is a potential nominee for TWO films this year (Jurassic World FK, Solo)

Finally, and frustratingly, 35 out of the 36 people on stage were white males [3 branch governors and 33 potential visual effects Oscar nominees presented]. We have an enormous inclusion problem and we have so much work to do.

Great writeup from AWN of the Bake-Off, including tons of breakdown reels from each film (these are *not* the breakdown/clip reels shown at the Academy event, FYI): 2019 Academy VFX Bake-Off: Celebrating A Year of Excellence in Visual Effects.

Original Twitter Thread

VES Announces Nominations for 17th VES Awards

The nominees for the 17th Visual Effects Society Awards were announced, and the two biggest feature film nomination earners were "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Ready Player One".

The two films earned six and five nominations, respectively. Coming up next with three nominations each were "Solo", "Welcome to Marwen" and "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom". "Christopher Robin," "First Man" and "Aquaman" earned two nominations each.

Nabbing a single nomination was "12 Strong", "Bird Box", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Outlaw King", "Ant-Man and the Wasp", "Mortal Engines", "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald", and "Venom".

Of the ten films that were in the Academy Bake-Off, the two films that didn't earn any VES Awards nominations are "Black Panther" and "Mary Poppins Returns".

Listed below are all of the categories for which live-action feature films were eligible. To see all the nominees, visit The Hollywood Reporter's coverage.  The nominees for the VES Awards are chosen by an Awards nomination process for qualified applications. The full VES membership votes for the winners of the awards, which will be announced at a banquet on February 5, 2019. To learn more about the Visual Effects Society, visit their web site.

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature 
Avengers: Infinity War
Daniel DeLeeuw, Jen Underdahl, Kelly Port, Matt Aitken, Daniel Sudick

Christopher Robin
Chris Lawrence, Steve Gaub, Michael Eames, Glenn Melenhorst, Chris Corbould

Ready Player One
Roger Guyett, Jennifer Meislohn, David Shirk, Matthew Butler, Neil Corbould

Solo: A Star Wars Story
Rob Bredow, Erin Dusseault, Matt Shumway, Patrick Tubach, Dominic Tuohy

Welcome to Marwen
Kevin Baillie, Sandra Scott, Seth Hill, Marc Chu, James Paradis

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
12 Strong
Roger Nall, Robert Weaver, Mike Meinardus

Bird Box
Marcus Taormina, David Robinson, Mark Bakowski, Sophie Dawes, Mike Meinardus

Bohemian Rhapsody
Paul Norris, Tim Field, May Leung, Andrew Simmonds

First Man
Paul Lambert, Kevin Elam, Tristan Myles, Ian Hunter, JD Schwalm

Outlaw King
Alex Bicknell, Dan Bethell, Greg O'Connor, Stefano Pepin

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature
Avengers: Infinity War; Thanos
Jan Philip Cramer, Darren Hendler, Paul Story, Sidney Kombo-Kintombo

Christopher Robin; Tigger
Arslan Elver, Kayn Garcia, Laurent Laban, Mariano Mendiburu

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Indoraptor
Jance Rubinchik, Ted Lister, Yannick Gillain, Keith Ribbons

Ready Player One; Art3mis
David Shirk, Brian Cantwell, Jung-Seung Hong, Kim Ooi

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
Ant-Man and the Wasp; Journey to the Quantum Realm
Florian Witzel, Harsh Mistri, Yuri Serizawa, Can Yuksel

Aquaman; Atlantis
Quentin Marmier, Aaron Barr, Jeffrey De Guzman, Ziad Shureih

Ready Player One; The Shining, Overlook Hotel
Mert Yamak, Stanley Wong, Joana Garrido, Daniel Gagiu

Solo: A Star Wars Story; Vandor Planet
Julian Foddy, Christoph Ammann, Clement Gerard, Pontus Albrecht

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project
Aquaman; Third Act Battle
Claus Pedersen, Mohammad Rastkar, Cedric Lo, Ryan McCoy

Echo; Time Displacement
Victor Perez, Tomas Tjernberg, Tomas Wall, Marcus Dineen

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Gyrosphere Escape
Pawl Fulker, Matt Perrin, Oscar Faura, David Vickery

Ready Player One; New York Race
Daniele Bigi, Edmund Kolloen, Mathieu Vig, Jean-Baptiste Noyau

Welcome to Marwen; Town of Marwen
C. Kim Miles, Matthew Ward, Ryan Beagan, Marc Chu

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project
Avengers: Infinity War; Nidavellir Forge Megastructure
Chad Roen, Ryan Rogers, Jeff Tetzlaff, Ming Pan

Incredibles 2; Underminer Vehicle
Neil Blevins, Philip Metschan, Kevin Singleton

Mortal Engines; London
Matthew Sandoval, James Ogle, Nick Keller, Sam Tack

Ready Player One; DeLorean DMC-12
Giuseppe Laterza, Kim Lindqvist, Mauro Giacomazzo, William Gallyot

Solo: A Star Wars Story; Millennium Falcon
Masa Narita, Steve Walton, David Meny, James Clyne

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
Avengers: Infinity War; Titan
Gerardo Aguilera, Ashraf Ghoniem, Vasilis Pazionis, Hartwell Durfor

Avengers: Infinity War; Wakanda
Florian Witzel, Adam Lee, Miguel Perez Senent, Francisco Rodriguez

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Dominik Kirouac, Chloe Ostiguy, Christian Gaumond

Aharon Bourland, Jordan Walsh, Aleksandar Chalyovski, Federico Frassinelli

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature
Avengers: Infinity War; Titan
Sabine Laimer, Tim Walker, Tobias Wiesner, Massimo Pasquetti

First Man
Joel Delle-Vergin, Peter Farkas, Miles Lauridsen, Francesco Dell'Anna

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
John Galloway, Enrik Pavdeja, David Nolan, Juan Espigares Enriquez

Welcome to Marwen
Woei Lee, Saul Galbiati, Max Besner, Thai-Son Doan

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Some Brief Thoughts on "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"

A series of tweets, over a series of days, bloggified here for posterity, about the wonderful "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (2018).

πŸ•·️  O H  M Y  G O D  πŸ•·️

"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is for real. It is amazing. See it on the biggest screen you can. Crazy congratulations to Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman and everyone that worked on this monumental movie.

I hope Persichetti, Ramsey and Rothman are prepping a short intro video for the home release of "Spider-Verse" asking viewers to turn off motion smoothing. I can only imagine how the "feature" will affect the film.

There isn’t a lazy shot in this entire movie. Okay, I seriously cannot remember the last time I saw a new movie three times in two weeks. “Spider-Verse” is a masterpiece.


A quick examination of a single shot from "Spider-Verse" follows.

Things to notice in this one shot:
 • Both Miles and Peter are animated on 2's (12 poses/sec), while the scene was rendered on 1's (24 frames/sec). So even though they're frozen for two frames, they are moving within the frame.
 • They are on animated 2's, but offset from each other.
 • Bagel!!!
 • Scenes in the film were not rendered with traditional motion blur--nothing within the frame is smeared (just like comics). To simulate smoother motion in this shot, pieces of echoey geometry appear trailing Peter's screen left arm on certain frames, filling in "gaps".

 A closer, slower look. Check out Miles' hand as he releases the bagel, for another way artists simulated motion blur without rendering motion blur.

A fun thing to look for in "Spider-Verse" are moments where a character shifts from 2's to 1's within a single shot. For extra credit: look for shots where parts of a character's body are animated on 2's and other parts of the body are on 1's!

The “Bagel!!!” shot discussed in this thread was animated by Andrew Perez at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Lighting by Kathy Chi and compositing by Jeremy Kin.

Original Tweet