Saturday, October 07, 2006

InfoLink - Aviator Visual Effects - Behind the Scenes

I was disappointed in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" as a film. I felt that it was bloated and uninteresting as a whole. However, those special effects... yee-haw! An excellent job was done by the effects crew and it's nice to see that they were recognized for their efforts with a Web site devoted solely to the effects of the film. It's mainly still photos without commentary, but there are plenty of great pictures of the miniatures used in the film, including construction, filming and shots showing final compositing. Well worth a look!

Aviator Visual Effects - Behind the Scenes

Monday, June 05, 2006

RetroLink - Sailing Midget Ships

While not specifically miniatures made for film use, these large-scale ships that graced the pages of Modern Mechanix magazine from 1938 show an attention to detail worthy of the screen.

"British tars, recently, sailed two other midget men-of-war along the English coast during naval maneuvers. One was a reproduction of Sir Francis Drake’s flagship, the Golden Hind. The other was Lord Nelson’s famous fighting ship, the Victory. Both vessels were equipped with heavy keels and could fire broadsides from the half-size guns they carried."

Link via Make Blog.

Modern Mechanix - Sailing Midget Ships

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

InfoLink - Starship Troopers Model Portfolio

Here's a look behind the scenes at the model shop that produced the models for the first Starship Troopers movie. A good selection of photos, though I'd enjoy more.

Starship Modeler: Starship Troopers Model Portfolio

InfoLink - Star Warz Model Shop

If you're interested in scratchbuilt Star Wars models and can't wait for the book mentioned below, check out Lasse Henning's site. In it, he shows how he has built his own quality miniatures of Star Wars subjects without resorting to buying off-the-shelf kits. These model techniques are the same ones used by pro modellers in Hollywood and around the world. Lasse has lots of pictures to document his project and it's a gold mine of information.

The Model Shop with Lasse Henning

InfoLink - Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop

Well, well, well! Two hundred and sixteen pages of Star Wars model goodness, lavishly illustrated with hundreds of photographs. Looks like there's a new contender for the place of honor on the coffee table!

Scupting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Modelshop looks like a sure hit for fans of sci-fi and movie miniatures. Industrial Light & Magic has a great deal of history and created the visuals for the classic Star Wars films in a time before CGI and 3D modeling. They did it the old-fahioned way, hands on and detailed!

I'm looking forward to this book, to be releasd in November.

Sculpting a Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop

Friday, January 27, 2006

Behind the Scenes - Coronado Reduex...

I finally took the time to get some video captures of the miniatures used in Coronado (mentioned in a previous post). Again, lots of attention to the effects in the film in the special features on the DVD and well worth a viewing. Enjoy!

Set One - The Village

During the film, the protagonists visit the destroyed village of the rebel leader. Reproduced as both a full-size set in the studio (so they could fog it up real nice) and a miniature set as well. The ruins of the village are mostly made of something that looks like foam core- cheap, simple and effective! The minature truck looks like the 1:18 scale truck used on the bridge scenes discussed later. Note the collection of mini-flashlights attached to the model to get the "beams of light through the fog" as seen in the still from the film. Though not specifically shown, I suspect they used the "pull the truck with fishing line" method to get it to move, as was done in the bridge shots with the same model.

Set Two - The Tanks

There are several appearances of tanks in the movie, primarily near the finale. The production used two 1:4 scale hero models driven by radio control. The hero models were rigged with explosives for the closeup shots of the tanks blowing up at the end of the film. Although all the photos here are of the larger models, several smaller models were used for a sequence in which the army faces off with the rebels. These tanks, however, were not motorized.

Set Three - The Cave

The rebel base is in a cave hidden behind a waterful deep in the jungle. Inside are Mayan-esque pyramids and statues. A miniature set was constructed and populated with people vehicles and aircraft via compositing. The miniature set was never filmed, only photographed using digital cameras. The resulting digital photos were stitched together at used for compositing purposes. When shooting photos for the background plates, two sets were taken- one with the set filled with fog to get light streaming through the windows and one without to create a matching clean plate.

Set Four - The Jeeps

There are two scenes involving crashing jeeps. In the first clip below, a mis-fired bazooka launches the jeep into the air and it tumbles end over end after narrowly missing our heros. In the second, the jeep just misses passing in front of a speeding train. The miniature used in both is a 1:6 scale G.I. Joe jeep with figures. In the first scene, the model jeep was launched using explosives while being filmed against a blue screen. In the second, it was sent flying using a pneumatic ram. In both scenes, the end result is composited with live footage and comes across as very convincing.

Set Five - The Bridge

Driving a truck across a rickety bridge over a ravine is challenging in real life, no less so in miniature. Using model trucks and bridges in 1:6 and 1:18 scale, the effects team shot the models against blue screen for compositing. As mentioned previously, the miniature trucks were moved across the bridge by pulling them on a wire or fishing line. For the bridge collapse sequence, pneumatic rams were used to pull the bridge apart in a controlled manner that could be repeated if need be. As you can see, some "miniatures" can be pretty big!