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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
There and Back Again
Article by Jody Duncan
 
In this first installment in a planned three-part prequel, director Peter Jackson takes us back to J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth and a young Bilbo Baggins, who joins up with 13 dwarves in a quest to reclaim stolen treasure from the dragon Smaug. As he did in Lord of the Rings, Jackson collaborated closely with his effects teams at Weta Digital and Weta Workshop, with the latter providing dwarf designs and prosthetics, while the former offered up extensive digital environments for the film's many fantasy settings, as well as dwarf scale effects and a state-of-the-art Gollum that benefitted from improvements in on-set performance capture and other technological advances in animation.
 
Cloud Atlas
Causes and Consequences
Article by Barbara Robertson
 
Adapted by filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer from a from a sprawling novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas covers six intersecting stories, and spans continents and time periods as it follows the transformation of a single soul through many lifetimes. The film's sweeping storyline relied on prosthetic makeup effects by Jeremy Woodhead and Daniel Parker, as well as countless visual effects divided among fifteen vendors worldwide, led by visual effects supervisors Dan Glass and Stephane Ceretti, who provided everything from set extensions and enhancements to full CG environments for a futuristic metropolis.
 
Life of Pi
The Calculus of Pi
Article by Jody Duncan
 
Ang Lee directs the film adaptation of Yann Martel's award-winning novel about an Indian boy, Pi Patel, who, as sole survivor of a shipwreck that takes the life of his entire family, finds himself adrift at sea for many months in a small lifeboat shared with a Bengal tiger. Visual effects supervisors Bill Westenhofer worked with animation experts at Rhythm & Hues to achieve an utterly convincing computer generated tiger, who progresses from healthy to emaciated, while Legacy Effects provided animatronics support. Other contributing vendors included MPC, Crazy Horse Effects, LOOK Effects, Christov Effects, Buf, Lola VFX and Halon Entertainment.
 
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Q&A: Ray Tintori
Interview by Janine Pourroy
 
In this in-depth Q&A, special effects unit director Ray Tintori sheds light on how the makers of this Cannes and Sundance Film Festival favorite, about a young child who fights to survive poverty and Mother Nature on a storm-threatened atoll, realized the film's principal effect — the mythical 'aurochs' beasts — on a shoestring budget, through the use of creative and quirky practical solutions.
 
 
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