If you’re a big nerd for movie magic and behind the scenes into how your favorite films are made then Raiders, Raptors, and Rebels: Behind the Magic of ILM was a must-see stop for Comic-Con 2015.
Due to the amount of copyrighted footage shown, we weren’t allowed to tape the panel but guest panelists Lorne Peterson (one of the original members of ILM), John Goodson (Digital Artist), and Jeff White (Visal Effects Supervisor) moderated by Cara Santa Maria led a really fascinating and MUCH too short look into the making of some of ILM’s most popular creations.
Starting with Empire Strikes Back—ILM’s first major project—we learned about the special effects of a much more practical sort that were used on the ice planet of Hoth. From baking soda snow to special imported micro fur, it was a much more difficult process to create worlds that are now all generated completely in computers. We got to see a little bit of the molds and armatures for the stop-motion Tauntauns which were about the only achievable way to create the film’s creative demands.
By the early 1990s, ILM was exploring other more digital means. Jurassic Park was originally also going to be a stop-motion feature. Believe it or not, we could have had a much different looking film. After some early CG tests were created with convincing effect they decided to explore digital dinosaurs.
Jurassic Park ended up succeeding so well in creating believable life through digital means that it really launched the realm of CGI animation in motion pictures. To showcase this in the panel, we got to see a little bit of the motion capture magic that was used to completely create Davy Jones as a digital character in the film. What many assume was only a partial CG creation was actually fully digital in the film, right down to the very believable and expressive eyes.
Surprisingly, the largest amount of time in the was spent on bringing the HULK to life in THE AVENGERS and it was a lot more interesting than you’d actually think! Several challenges were presented for this character including skin texture and musculature. To help create realistic muscles that moved under the green skin of the character, they actually fully created a muscular structure to live under his skin that would affect and change the appearance of his skin for a more realistic appearance.
We got to see footage of “Green Steve” who was a muscly live-action reference actor who was filmed for inspiration to the CG animators. Through these test shots, they were able to see how his green-painted skin looked in the various lighting conditions and also how his muscles moved and created as he ran, punched, and did other action scenes.
The realism to bring Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk to life went down to details of veins that slightly changed the color of his skin as they bulged and even down to body hair, ear hair and nose hair. It was a massive task to bring a massive character to life with such delicate finesse.
A lot of the work they developed for Hulk in AVENGERS is now being put to use as a launching point for the work they’re doing on WARCRAFT.
Overall, the panel was super fascinating and worked as a really convincing teaser to tune into the Science Channel for more on movie magic as ILM celebrates its 40th Anniversary.