eDIT/VES 2003 Report

by Bert Coppens

So this year I went back to Germany, Frankfurt for the second eDIT/VES show. I saw a lot of interesting presentations like Terminator 3, Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean and the career of Dennis Muren, to name just a few.

Sunday, September 28

11am - Terminator 3

So first to start was Pablo Helman for T3. The presentation was really interesting and they showed some cool behind the scenes VFX stuff. What I saw is that ILM also makes some really cool preview reels to start the presentation with some good music and editing in it. They showed the miniature work, the dynamic simulations, the digital stunt doubles and some digital vehicle shots. What was great was the miniature work they did on the opening shot of the skulls underwater, with digital water and a bottle falling into the water. There was also some cool liquid metal shots that were now done with dynamic simulations.

The digital doubles were really realistically looking with some good cloth simulation. The shot of the terminator putting his head back on was almost invisible while the whole body, except the legs, were CG. There was also some great compositing as Arnold swung the Terminatrix into the bathroom. Arnold was shot in a blue screen room throwing a blue dummy around. So they composited him into an empty set with stalls trashing themselves. And finally they composited a digital double of Kristanna Loken into Arnold's arms so it looked like Arnold really smashed the Terminatrix against the wall and then threw her away. Almost a complete invisible shot. All this made T3 an interesting presentation and project. So you saw that this was a project that still had some traditional VFX techniques instead of just everything being digital. So they used the VFX in a good way.

After the presentation my dad took a picture of me and Helman and I had my AOTC Cinefex signed.

With Pablo Helman

1pm - Dennis Muren: About Storytelling

So after Pablo Helman's great presentation "THE" great VFX master on our planet appeared on stage in front of my eyes. It was a moment of disbelief for a quick moment. But after a few minutes I got used to it at started listening with great attention. So he got interviewed by Harrison Ellenshaw and then Muren started talking how he got interested in movies and VFX. He said that he didn't really know how movies were made but that it came from watching TV. Then they showed some super 8 movies he made with some friends. With great wonder some of it looked actually really good and I even still didn't know how he did it. I don't think that I can do something like that with my camera. He really spent a lot of time experimenting and developing his shots. He explained some of it, how he did it. The video showed a rocket taking off from the moon. He just pulled it up with wires. And a stop motion film with a dinosaur getting stuck in the power lines and also something with a volcano. Really cute. Then they showed a scene of his student work that actually got released and distributed. It involved a big ape looking man in a suit that came out of nothing and attacked 4 teenagers.

Then Muren talked about how he got involved in the STAR WARS team . He first talked with John Dykstra who worked for Douglas Trumbull on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Dennis was looking around for projects while already working on commercials but there was just nothing around to do. He explained that there were 2 groups of FX people. The first was the one he was in, which didn't have any technology so they tried to do FX with what was around and traditional stuff. The second group was those who had motion control cameras and other technology which was created by people like Ray Harryhausen or Doug Trumbull. On a certain moment Muren heard about a project about a story that took place in space. Everyone just thought that it was ridiculous and would never happen. But Muren believed in the project. So he contacted Doug Trumbull via John Dykstra who he had met before, cause Muren wanted to meet George Lucas. Trumbull agreed and Muren became part of the team at ILM. That's how everything got started with Muren. Then when he was done on STAR WARS, Trumbull invited Muren to work on the mother ship sequence at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind which was a great pleasure for him.

He then talked a little about THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK where they started working first on the asteroid chase. After that they showed the chase through the woods scene from RETURN OF THE JEDI and the animatics they made for that sequence which were hilarious. Then they started talking about all the projects that followed. and showed several scenes from projects he worked on like T2, JP, TPM and AI . So it ended as being an interesting biographical interview. Last, he told the audience that if you keep trying and if you are very motivated you'll get into the VFX business.

With Dennis Muren

First I didn't waned to put this image online cause it was kinda a failure. But after I saw it it was kind of a funny situation. I asked for a picture but the people there were so friendly, enough to really take Muren's attention away from me, and my dad kinda pushed the *click* button a little to fast. After the presentation I got my JP Cinefex signed.

3pm - Highend VFX for High Class Commercials

I decided to go to that presentation as well cause it simply looked interesting. There were 4 presenters for this presentation. First Christoph Zapletal (Ach-frankfurt) who talked about a commercial which involved people mis-forming. I don't know for what product the commercial was. Nice work they did there. Then came Markus Degen (tvt postproduction) who presented a commercial about a radio channel. It involved invisible bodies putting clothes on. Some cool removing work. Then Andrew Daffy (Framestore/CFC) came and discussed the mosquito commercial for Xbox that won the VES award, the commercial for water about the t-rexes chasing a man, fish swimming through the streets of London and a commercial for jeans which involved a girl and a boy running through walls. Really great FX. I loved the mosquito animation and rendering. Finally Darren Christie (Moving Picture Company) presented the commercial with people having the same face. This was probably the best and funniest commercial of the whole presentation. They just shot all the people and then the lead actor did a blue screen shot and performed all the actors movements and expressions. His head was composited onto the other actors' head that were on location. The first two presentations were in German so I didn't really understand much. Although I recognized some Dutch words in German. Really interesting presentation.

5pm - The Hulk

So, up next was Gerald Gutschmidt. He was born in Germany and went to study to the Netherlands. He has lived in the US for 9 years now. He joined ILM in 1995 working on CASPER as a TD. Projects after that were JACK FROST and SPEED II. Then projects came like PERFECT STORM and HULK were he had a great time on. For the HULK he discussed the technical aspects. Like the subsurface scattering system. He showed several layers of lighting and texturing. Really cool.

They showed some muscle and animation tests and how they filmed bodybuilders or fights that Colin Brady and Ang Lee filmed. They also showed Ang Lee showing the performance for the animators which were really funny. They also showed an animation test where they copied the performance of a muscled guy getting mad and roaring. Another one was where an animator copied the performance of Jennifer Connelly crying which gave a really hilarious effect seeing Hulk crying and sniffing. They showed also some dessert stuff like Hulk throwing the tank with the digital sand and tank and Hulk smashing the tank with the tank canon. It was a interesting presentation.

It was a nice presentation and I have more respect for the project now after the presentation. I like the animation and FX more than when I saw the movie for the first time.

After the presentation I got my Hulk article in cinefex signed and my dad took a picture while he was doing that. He looks a really nice guy.The picture looks a little blurry.

With Gerald Gutschmidt

9pm - eDIT GALA

First we didn't plan to the gala. We thought it was late and it only was for the adult people and special guests. But we decided to go anyway. When we got there at 8:30pm I felt quite embarrassed. Everyone was smoking and was drinking a glass of wine. My dad and I just walked there in our ordinary clothes between all these politicians from Frankfurt and the rest of Germany and other important people. Kinda felt like I was involved in a Academy award ceremony. Really cool. Pablo Helman was there. I felt the happiest person in me. First they showed the eDIT/VES intro. Then some politicians talked to me and and I didn't know much German. Sometimes I was clapping my hands for something I didn't know what was for.

After almost half an hour or so Tom Atkin got on stage and talked in English. Quite funny to look at. He and Dennis Muren were the only people that spoke English there. Then they started honoring the 3 veterans. First Michael Ballhaus. They first showed an edited clip of all his work. That gave me the goosebumps. And when they gave him the VES festival honor he gave a great speech which my dad translated for me after the whole thing was done. Then came Dennis Muren. The clip gave me more goosebumps. His speech was really beautiful. I was happy at that moment that I really could witness a Muren speech. That moment was like witnessing Muren winning an oscar. At the end the gave some edit/VES awards for best commercial. There were some nice commercials that got nominated and the one that won for Amnesty International was very original. So, I was really happy I got there and I had a great time.

After the gala I succeeded to take a serious picture of me and Muren. But as you see this is not a normal picture. I don't know what went wrong. But I take it as a sign. More proof that Muren is GOD! No seriously, first I was about to rip my hair out but after a little while I just realized it was the coolest picture I ever have of myself This is in my eyes the perfect picture. Muren in his smocking, just received an award. After the picture my dad told him that I admire his work very much and that I always followed his latest work on ILMfan.com which he amazingly seemed to recognize.

With Dennis Muren