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Author Topic: Lost Boys Learning - Class 4 - UFO Project Showcase  (Read 2409 times)
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Mark Benard
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« on: January 22, 2009, 05:59:57 PM »


Class 4 - UFO Project Showcase

We often suspend our disbelief when watching science-fiction movies.  We know that flying saucers don't exist (or do they?) but filmmakers have honed the art of creating fantastic stories supported by believable effects, allowing us to be immersed in the moment.  We want to believe...

From the elaborate miniatures were created for Star Wars, Close Encounters, Star Trek and the first Battlestar Galactica series in the 1970's by pioneers John Dykstra and Douglas Trumbull, to the completely digital environments made for Independence Day, The Matrix, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Stargate SG-1, VFX artists are challenged to continually raise the bar on detail, integration and believability.  

In shots where the actors are in the scene, seamless blending becomes paramount.  In the UFO student project at Lost Boys Learning on Vancouver Island, there is an emphasis on photo-realistic integration of elements such as foreground objects (trees, architectural structures, people, etc.), shadows, reflections and interactive light.  Students are encouraged to consider a more subtle portrayal of the UFO to rely more on integration and interaction, and to a imply partially concealed presence.

In the first week, sequences are designed, locations scouted, actors and costumes prepped, lighting organized and crews assembled.  In the following 4 weeks, ships are modeled, textured, animated, and lit, and effects are composited, resulting in an industry relevant sequence for the student's demo reel.

Have a look at some of the behind-the-scenes and project photos, and read about the process from the student's perspective:

John Lipskie

"On the day we scouted this location overlooking the Comox Valley for an animatic, the weather and light were perfect.  When we returned to shoot the plates for the scene, it was overcast and dark.  Luckily, there was a break and we were able to get the shot in the same conditions.  My saucer design is based on a classic "disc", which coincidentally resembles a hubcap.  The character is holding an actual hubcap on a fishing rod, pretending, when from behind the trees comes the real thing."


JongJun "Danny" An

"My UFO concept was to show a huge spaceship and a fleet of smaller ships transporting through portals into the downtown city sky.  For backgrounds, I shot both video and stills from various buildings in downtown Vancouver.  I designed a fantasy effect for the transporting rings element.   My spaceship model is based on a Star Wars design with changes to the textures and shaders.  The most difficult thing was matching the scale of the ships with the background."


Monica Rodriguez

"The location for my UFO Project was Goose Spit in the Comox Valley, a beachfront recreational area on the ocean.  I was inspired by the peaceful and quiet surroundings. We shot my project at night, in the cold weather, so having the beach fire really helped.  With Mark and my classmates, we set the lights that I needed for the plates, especially the interactive animated light for my character's face."


Clifford Green

"For my UFO project, I opted for the vacant lot near the studio. The location very much inspired the project, as most of my shots were carefully designed to fit the location. Lighting the scene was a challenge, we needed a high beam of light chasing the talent. In order to solve this problem, we had to rig our 15 million candle power flashlight (aka "deathray!") onto a pole, and two crew members were responsible for acting out the UFO chase. It was a very cold night, the crew's spirit was high and we were ready to tackle any challenge that we came across."


Daniel Jackson

"In my UFO story we see a homeless guy sleeping under an overpass.  He wakes up to witness a UFO gathering data on the human race.  The UFO then has to kill the guy and disappear.  We shot under the 17th Street bridge in Courtenay, building a rig out wood, pulleys and rope.  My fellow students pulled me up, then dropped me.  It was painful getting lifted by a rope harness, but the paint-out was not as hard as I thought it would be."



« Last Edit: October 21, 2009, 03:56:53 PM by Gillian Benard » Logged

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Lost Boys Learning is North America's only dedicated visual effects school with world-class training in photo-realistic 3D for VFX and compositing for film and television. Boasting a 94% placement rate Lost Boys Learning offers a specialized 1 year Visual Effects Diploma.  Our students work with the award winning VFX Supervisor and experienced mentor, Mark Bénard, in a project-based learning environment, covering VFX pre-production and shooting, 3D for VFX and compositing.
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