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The FX of Cloverfield; also, read Cinefex

February 1, 2008

I want to avoid allowing this blog to just become what most blogs are: a daily link to some OTHER blog. You can get that crap anywhere, and a blog generating its own content is much more interesting. But I think that linking to articles or posts of potential interest occasionally should be okay.

There’s an article up over at Studio Daily about the visual effects of Cloverfield.

If you liked the movie and are interested in visual effects, without having to deal with too much techy-talk, it’s a pretty good article. For those who are deeper into VFX, it’s something to hold you over until the March issue of Cinefex hits stands with their Cloverfield coverage.

Incidentally, for those of you who read this occasionally looking for advice on VFX, here’s a nugget for you: read Cinefex. You should be subscribed and read every issue cover to cover. If you’re just starting, it’s kind of a trial by fire; I started reading Cinefex with issue 86, their coverage of Pearl Harbor in July 2001, and if I understood 10% of that issue I’d be proud of myself.

Cinefex is a professional journal for the visual effects industry. It does not contain tutorials on how they did the effects, nor will they take the time to explain a fundamental concept they cite. For example, they will tell you that they created New York for I Am Legend thusly:

Using lidar scans, Imageworks created the entire Times Square area as a 3D environment, building models and then projecting photographs and matte-painted elements onto that geometry.

The current issue is 112, and in the just-under-seven years I’ve been reading the magazine I’ve had a lot of experience, and done a lot of research, so that I actually understand just about everything they say in every issue. But if you don’t know what lidar scans are, if you don’t know how one would build a 3D model or by what process one would “project elements onto geometry”, they’re not going to tell you, because they expect you to know.

So if you pick up Cinefex and a lot of it sounds like total gibberish, don’t worry. It is VERY dense material, especially if you have never heard of these concepts before. But if you want to get into VFX, take it as a challenge. Do external research, make Wikipedia and other tech-savvy periodicals your friends, and soon enough it’ll all make sense. You may not be able to DO everything they talk about (God knows I can’t), but you’ll understand what it is that they are doing.

Also, if you REALLY want to get into this stuff, buy the backissues, too. They’ve been publishing since 1980, and more than finding out how they made the latest movie, you can learn a LOT and have your mind expanded by reading how they made some of the classics. Some backissues are available on the site, others you have to take it to eBay. I don’t have a full collection, but I’m working on it.

One Comment
  1. Daniel Broadway permalink

    I remember that Pearl Harbor issue of Cinefex. I don’t understand anything it it either. But yeah, Cinefex is a fantastic resource.

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