Topic: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

In lieu of a DiF episode, which titles do you guys think will advance to the final five?

Shortlist is:
Alien: Covenant
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Okja
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes

My personal picks:

Locks
War for the Planet of the Apes
I'm really hoping this one gets the Oscar for the trilogy, but even if it doesn't win it's guaranteed to make the running. It truly might be the best VFX ever seen on the big screen—WETA Digital already did mind-blowing work on Rise and particularly Dawn but this handily tops them both. There isn't a single shot of the film in which I didn't buy Caesar and his compatriots as part of the world. In addition to this serving as a "legacy" Oscar for the whole trilogy, it could also happen as a compromise measure by the Academy in exchange for Serkis not being made eligible for Best Actor for his work as Caesar.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It's a Star Wars movie that's garnered a ton of critical acclaim and is gonna make close to $2 billion—no way this thing doesn't get nominated. I'm honestly less impressed with the VFX here than I was in TFA—that movie had a tangibility this one lacks, and

SPOILER Show
the casino sequence
has some outright dodgy work—but there are still some absolutely gorgeous visuals, and it takes place on an epic scale that most of the other nominees here don't. So, yeah, I don't think it should win, but it's also a guaranteed nominee.

Blade Runner 2049
Not a lot new was done here, but it's very pretty work, which always counts with the Academy, and like Star Wars it was very well-received by critics. And as much as I'm not a fan of this particular effect's presence,

SPOILER Show
digital Rachel
was light-years better than similar work in
SPOILER Show
Rogue One
just last year. Nothing here is groundbreaking in the way of its predecessor, but it's tasteful and well-executed, which goes a long way.

Wild Cards
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
This one's a long shot, but I think its having the most VFX shots of any movie ever probably counts for something. If anything is likely to edge it out it's Guardians, which has a similar aesthetic and would be the sole superhero representative of the group. The work itself isn't "realistic," but its cartoonish neon cacophony is wonderful fun to look at. Its divided critical reception could hurt its chances at inclusion, but if Transformers can get a nom why can't this one?

Dunkirk
This one has a whole lot of practical, which is a big awards draw. Also one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, from one of the most well-respected directors currently working. It's not an obviously effects-heavy movie, which could hurt its chances, but I'm reasonably sure this one will make it to the final running.

Guardians of the Galaxy and Okja are the potential spoilers here, and maaaaaaybe The Shape of Water. I don't see either of the other nominees standing much of a chance, especially Alien: Covenant.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Oh hey, what's up in this thread?  smile

I haven't seen all the potential nominees but of the ones I have seen, I call Apes and Dunkirk as the early locks. The other three slots could go any direction. 

Valerian, Guardians, and Jedi are all wrestling for the Epic Space Thingy slot, and I've only seen Guardians. Which is as beautiful as the first and I'd vote for it if I could.  I would say Jedi is another lock because, duh, but ever since Revenge of the Sith DIDN'T get a nomination I'm just never that sure any more.  One of them will get through, two will likely get through, but all three will probably not get through.

Planet of the Apes will probably steal monkey appreciation votes from Kong and thus open the door for Okja to snag an open character animation slot.

Blade Runner did everything well, and there's the nostalgia factor, but I don't think that adds up to a sure thing.

Shape of Water and Alien, haven't seen yet.  Shape is getting a lot of love overall though, so it could be this year's Ex Machina, ie the Little Movie That Could.

Most surprising snub: I would have expected - and voted for - Wonder Woman to be in this crowd.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

TREY!

Yeah, it's kind of startling that Guardians is the only superhero movie to make even the shortlist, considering we've had six of the things hit this year. (Oh god, I thought it was only five and forgot we also got a Spider-Man reboot. Kill me.)

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

DarthPraxus wrote:

we also got a Spider-Man reboot. Kill me.

Spiderman colon Homecoming was actually pretty good movie by Spiderman standards.

Make of that what you will.

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Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

DarthPraxus wrote:

Blade Runner 2049
Not a lot new was done here, but it's very pretty work, which always counts with the Academy, and like Star Wars it was very well-received by critics. And as much as I'm not a fan of this particular effect's presence,

SPOILER Show
digital Rachel
was light-years better than similar work in
SPOILER Show
Rogue One
just last year. Nothing here is groundbreaking in the way of its predecessor, but it's tasteful and well-executed, which goes a long way.

I guess most of us have already seen both films, but as you put them in spoiler tags, I'll do it too.

  Show

I saw both, and I strongly disagree. Blade runner had much worse digital representation than Rogue One. Tarkin was more fleshed out and paid attention to, whereas Rachael was in it for like a minute or so, and felt seriously rushed. I still loved the sequence, but unlike Tarkin, most of my friends noticed that something was off far quicker than Rogue One, where most of them actually didn't even notice until Leia.

As for VFX in general this year; yeah, Apes deserves it. While the movie wasn't that great, in my opinion, the visual effects were pretty much flawless.
Dunkirk will also probably get a lock, but there are mostly invisible VFX, which I seldom like in an oscar nomination. It's not that it's bad; it's incredibly good, but without breakdowns, the general public won't even understand why it potentially won.

Spider-Man had solid VFX, but if we're talking Marvel, my money's on Thor: Ragnarok.

Covenant had solid vfx, as had the rest of them.

Tomahawk Ellingsen

www.extendededition.net

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Tomahawk wrote:

I guess most of us have already seen both films, but as you put them in spoiler tags, I'll do it too.

  Show

I saw both, and I strongly disagree. Blade runner had much worse digital representation than Rogue One. Tarkin was more fleshed out and paid attention to, whereas Rachael was in it for like a minute or so, and felt seriously rushed. I still loved the sequence, but unlike Tarkin, most of my friends noticed that something was off far quicker than Rogue One, where most of them actually didn't even notice until Leia.

SPOILER Show
Rachel still felt off to me, but I think she felt far less uncanny valley than Tarkin. Even if there hadn't been something plastic about his skin and eyes, his movements were so stiff that it was painful for me to watch—especially in sequences where they cut between closeups of him and Krennic, the contrast did not do the digital Moff any favors. Tarkin may have been far more technically complex, but the BR team knew their limitations with Rachel and shot her in such a way that, even though I realized what she was, it was a far less uncomfortable experience for me. Then again, it could just be that all my discomfort was already used up from being forced to watch Jared Leto act.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

The not-so-short list of 20 had EVERY superhero movie on it, but only Guardians got through to the semifinal 10.  Not sure if this indicates any kind of trend or is just how the ball bounced this year. 

Here are the 10 that got cut in the last round:

Beauty and the Beast
Ghost in the Shell
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Justice League
Life
Logan
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Thor: Ragnarok
Wonder Woman

Biggest surprise from that list for me... I guess Ghost in the Shell finally got made and came out this year?

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Tomahawk wrote:

I guess most of us have already seen both films, but as you put them in spoiler tags, I'll do it too.

  Show

I saw both, and I strongly disagree. Blade runner had much worse digital representation than Rogue One. Tarkin was more fleshed out and paid attention to, whereas Rachael was in it for like a minute or so, and felt seriously rushed. I still loved the sequence, but unlike Tarkin, most of my friends noticed that something was off far quicker than Rogue One, where most of them actually didn't even notice until Leia.

Couldn't disagree more.

Blade Runner 2049, Rogue One, The Last Jedi Show
Let's start this off with a disclaimer: none of these CG characters, or all CG characters ever made,
didn't have at least one moment where the uncanny valley kicked in. But Tarkin was always in the viewer's face,
brightly lit, obvious. For all the effort that went into making him, there's plenty of moments we can tell. Rachel was on-screen for a short moment, and in a setting that allowed her to work more efficiently. There's no question,
I know she's CG, but it's not that obvious. It was made in a more VFX-ethical way. There's no way you couldn't tell at some point, but at least they did their best to avoid it. I won't even talk about Leia who was so obviously CG it hurt me for the 1.5 seconds she was on screen.

In the end, my favourite CG character was Snoke in TLJ, because his design allowed him more flexibility to the viewer's eyes, and he really, really worked. Lip movement isn't spot-on yet, but we're definitely making progress.

(though, to be fair; why the hell did he need to be CG in the first place?)

Sébastien Fraud
Facebook | Twitter | 500px
"We're gonna build a great green screen, and make the traditional matte painters pay for it"
Saniss for President 2016 - "Make VFX great again"

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Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

  Show
well, pulling Snoke into the equation, always brings me back to Davy Jones, or even Yoda. Yoda, in particular, pretty much had to be CG in the shots, due to his radical movement. They had to do that in CG, unfortunately. Same with Davy Jones. He had some elements that had to be CG in order to be believeable. I'm actually keen to go back now, 11 years later, and see if he holds up or not.

Also, Snoke had to be CG. If we base the consensus of his appearance from TFA, then he had to be CG. He's more or less human, but his face is askew and he's not entirely human. If they wanted to go with the TFA look verbatin, he had to be at least partially CG.

The thing with CG characters such as Jar-Jar, Davy Jones, Yoda, Chappie and so forth, is that they had to be CG. Stop motion or puppets couldn't do them justice. And we all know they're CG, because A) our trained eyes can spot it and B) they had to be.

When it comes to Rachael, Flynn, Tarkin, Benjamin Button and Leia, the only way they could do it justice, as in make them look "exactly" like they used to, they had to be CG: All of the above had stand-ins on set to pull reference from, but while all actors looked more or less the part, they had to be enhanced or replaced by CG.
The thing with Davy Jones and Yoda are that both of them are creatures we haven't seen in real life, and cut them both some slack, whereas de-aging actors put them right in the uncanny valley.

When it comes to the infamous valley, Tarkin wins for me. Neo and Smith looked pretty damn good in 2003, and Brad Pitt looked more or less good in 2009, but I've seen Rogue One about 5 times now, and while Tarkin is obviously CG to the trained eye, I tend to rate them all on the buddy scale. If my non-filmmaker buddies can't tell something is off, it's good enough for me. I had to show a friend of mine proof that Tarkin was CG, which wins in my book.

Now obviously, most of my friends didn't even watch Blade Runner 2049, as most people don't like the original, as it's too slow etc, so I can't do much about that one, and although all my friends know that Davy Jones is CG, it comes back to the fact that he has to be.

Whether or not a character looks CG is actually up to the eye of the beholder, and most of us in here are trained to look out for it. Obviously I can usually tell if a character is CG, but I'm caught by surprise now and then. Tarkin wins on my end. I knew it was CG the whole time, and could spot it, but initially, I just thought they'd show his reflection until he turned around. When he did I knew it was CG, because I knew Peter Cushing was dead, and the actor in episode 3 didn't look THAT much like him. I knew it was CG going in, but it still looked hella good.

Is it flawed? of course it is. We watch human beings every day, and we mostly know when something doesn't add up. It could be the fact that Jeff Bridges acting out his younger self in Tron Legacy doesn't work because(it doesn't work because it's very obviously CG) Jeff Bridges is old, and his facial movememnt isn't as articulated as younger pepole, or that Brad Pitt's younger self doesn't add up to the older Benjamin Button because his face is too articulated to work on an old man's face.

Although to be fair, we would never know how a 10 year old stuck in a 90 year old's body would articulate. I enjoy the film just fine.

Oh, hey look; oscars. Move along.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2017-12-19 23:34:47)

Tomahawk Ellingsen

www.extendededition.net

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Another VFX tidbit - it didn't even get into the final 20, but I was pretty impressed by the work in I, Tonya.  In addition to the period scenes and faux old-video footage and filling empty skate arenas with digital crowds, there are several beautiful skating sequences done in long takes with elaborate camera work. 

Which of course was actually done with hidden stitching and blending and face replacement - Margot Robbie trained and could do a lot, but that wasn't really her landing those triple axels.  I thought the movie might have a shot because no other movie this year showcased that kind of work, but I guess it was already out of the running before I even saw it.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Apes should have got it last time. An Oscar for a solid trilogy would be well deserved. The photo-realism is jaw-dropping.

And just like that...

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Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

As much as war of the planet for the rise of meh should win for VFX, I wish they never made them sound out of breathe all the time.  hmm

Hurroo

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Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

per tradition, my completely subjective report from the VFX bakeoff.

tl,dr: I still say it's a two-horse race between Apes and Dunkirk, the rest of the field could be almost any of the other eight.  Unless Shape of Water pulls an ex Machina (ha!) as the classy/arty dark horse.

Based on my scribbled notes, in presentation order:

Dunkirk

So much emphasis on the practical fx, I began to worry they were hyping the practical TOO much. However, they threw in enough techno-wonk about shooting in IMAX to satisfy the frame-fiddlers, I think.

Fun tidbit:  When you strap a custom IMAX camera to a miniature plane, then get in a chase helicopter with the plane's RC pilot and fly out over the Channel to line up a shot at 48 FPS - you get ONE MINUTE of shoot time before you have to go home again. 

Prediction: Should be a finalist, will be.

The Shape of Water

Lovely, but tiny.  I'm not saying that Best VFX should mean Most, but there was nothing groundbreaking on display. The FX were fine and the movie is pretty, but compared to Apes or Dunkirk... I just ain't feelin' it.   

However, that was my read on ex Machina last year as well, and I sure missed the boat on that one.  There's no denying that showing boobs at the bakeoff gets attention, because it happens so rarely.
 
Fun tidbit: Shape only got one audience question which either means it's a lock, or dead in the water (ha again!)

Prediction: shouldn't be a finalist. Could be, because boobs.

Alien: Covenant

I haven't seen this movie and I'm not sure I ever will.  From the reel it looks like Ridley's just going to keep remaking Alien with whatever new toys he can get hold of.  Good for him, and all the work was fine but nothing new.

Prediction: The one I'm most sure won't make the cut.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

The Guardians are my fave flavor in the Marvel Mandatory Consumption Variety Pack, and of the three space chase movies this year it's my fave as well. Viewed right next to Valerian and Last Jedi, Guardians' space spectacle was the most eye-pleasing and its action the best-choreographed.  But I have no idea if enough voters will agree with me.  Also a problem: Vol 1 got a nomination and there may not be enough new stuff this time around. 

But for ME, the highlight of the whole evening was re-watching Yondu's arrow lay waste to the bad guys to the tune of Come A Little Bit Closer, because VFX doesn't get any more fun than that. It's probably my favorite sequence of 2017.  (Second place: Wonder Woman in No Man's Land, thanks for asking.)

Fun tidbits: The reel was one of the best of the evening - they included a LOT of the jokes, and they all got laughs from the crowd. It's never a bad idea to show that your VFX are the movie, not just eye candy.  Whatever bugged me about Rocket in Vol 1. isn't bugging me anymore in Vol 2. Especially interesting since Rocket in Vol 2 was done by four different vendors.  There was a fair amount of discussion about de-aging Kurt Russell, my vibe is the voters found it acceptable. 

Best Line In The Presentation: "Every day, Gunn would have an idea that we weren't sure was a joke or not."
Least Helpful Line In The Presentation: From the practical FX guy, in answer to the question "So what was most challenging for you?" he said "Trying to find something to do."   Whoops.

Prediction: Should get in. Probably won't.

Kong: Skull Island

In a year with the Planet of the Apes finale in the running, I'm not sure how much monkey love is left over for a Kong movie.  The reel was solid - Kong punches the dinosaurs real good, often while knee-deep in procedural water - but I just wasn't feeling a lot of heat from the room for a movie that most people barely remember existed.

Prediction:  It's somewhere in the middle of the pack.  Might get enough votes, might not.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

From the vibe in the room, this one's got nothing to worry about. The supervisor's presentation was on the dry side - procedural hair blah blah, lighting blah blah - but the reel made sure to show lots of little character moments.  Everybody loves Bad Ape, the editors knew that and featured him heavily.  Money in the bank.

The topic of Serkis was touched on, delicately, as usual. The claim is that the on-set performers contributed a great deal as reference, but the mocap data wasn't used directly, the performances were entirely re-created with keyframing.

Fun tidbits: There are only 15 NON-fx shots in the entire movie.   The DP shot the movie with heavy depth of field, so in the VFX shots they would sometimes intentionally miss the focus by a smidge, to add to the realism.  And it's easy to think of the movie as just ape fx, so they made sure to point out the mostly-digital environments - forests and waterfalls and avalanches etc.

Prediction: If this doesn't make the list, the system is broken.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

Haven't seen this one, not likely to.  BUT JEEZUS LOOK AT IT.  I don't think I've ever seen a bakeoff reel that gave me less of an idea of what the freakin' movie was actually about.  There were maybe three shots of the actual lead actors in the whole thing - it was all about the world-building.  BUT JEEZUS LOOK AT IT.   

I dunno... if Avatar got a nomination, how does this not get one, too?  The only reason would be that nobody in America saw this movie.   But if "best vfx" does mean "most vfx" to enough of the voters, this one's in.

Fun tidbit: "Making this movie was so much fun, we thought nobody could possibly love it as much as we did. And we were right."

Prediction: Another one in the middle of the pack somewhere. Will not be surprised if it gets into the final because JEEZUS LOOK AT IT.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Reduced to a bakeoff reel, Last Jedi all seems very... familiar.   The thing that got the most attention in the Q & A was the process of archaeologically re-creating puppet Yoda from original molds, etc.   Which was fascinating, but it's not a good sign when your most interesting story is about doing the exact same effect that you already won an Oscar for in 1981.

Fun tidbit:  Practical puppet scenes are a time-consuming pain in the ass to shoot (I can vouch for this personally.) When they shot the Yoda scene for Last Jedi, dozens of the cast and crew stood there for hours - at night, in the cold - just to see Hamill and Oz working together again.  I would have, too.

Prediction: Star Wars movies are on the brink of becoming just like Harry Potter or Marvel or Jurassic Park, as far as VFX - just "another one of those".  There'll be a Star Wars movie in the running every year for the foreseeable future and everyone in the room knew it.  Jedi will likely get through on residual goodwill (and the large ILM voting bloc), but I will not be shocked if it doesn't. 

Okja

This one's in a mini-race with Shape of Water for the Little Movie That Could slot, and I think it comes out ahead.  Yes, it's a one-trick pony (or pig), but unlike the very small world of Shape of Water, Okja is out in the real world in dozens of environments, destroying cars and department stores and so on.   Something about Okja wasn't quite "right" for me, but I can't put my finger on what.  So as with the original Rocket, that may just be me.   

On the plus side, I have a lot of love for any movie where the animation supervisor was on set puppeteering stand-in props and orchestrating the interactions with a creature to be added later, since a large part of my own career has been exactly that.   (It was the first bakeoff reel in a long time that made me think "that would have been fun to work on.") My quibble with Okja's realism is somewhere in the lighting/compositing zone - as far as animation and interaction with actors and sets, I say it's a home run. 

Fun tidbit: the animators held back on giving Okja too much expression, especially in the eyes.  They wanted her to still seem like an animal - a smart one, but not too cartoonishly human-like.

Prediction: if there's a slot for a small movie to make the final five, I think Okja beats Shape of Water for the position.  On the other hand - no boobs.   Not human ones, anyway.

Blade Runner 2049

Didn't have a strong vibe for this one going in, but there seemed to be a lot of goodwill for it and so I rate its chances higher now. 

On the other hand, it was one of the worst-constructed reels of the night.  Too much time was spent on repetitive shots of the big landscapes.  So much so, the reel ran out of time without showing the final fight in the flooding spinner at all - which would have been their strongest demo of practical effects.  They ended up describing the effort that went into that scene in the Q&A, which was certainly not the best way to impress the crowd.

But they did make sure to include their one available boob shot, because boobs.

Fun tidbits: It was inevitable that the most discussion would be about the ninety seconds of digital Rachel.
The director felt there was something "off" about Rachel in her big scene, but in the shots where they re-created scenes from the original movie, she looked right.   They realized the difference was original Rachel had been lit by Jordan Cronenweth and not Roger Deakins .  They applied Cronenweth's lighting style to the digital model and showed that to the director, and he thought it was a real clip from the first movie.  Problem solved.

Richard Edlund - one of the heads of the VFX branch - committed the closest thing to a gaffe in a mostly unremarkable evening.  In the Blade Runner Q&A he offered the opinion that digital Rachel had "finally crossed the uncanny valley".  In response, Blade Runner's VFX supervisor was quick to diplomatically point out that we'd seen a lot of digital humans throughout the evening that were great, but thanks for the compliment. smile

Prediction: There just seemed to be a lot of love in the room for this one. I feel like it has a better than 50/50 shot at a nomination.

Final prediction (confident version):

Apes
Dunkirk
Three of the others, but probably not Alien

Final prediction (gun to my head version):

Apes
Dunkirk
Okja
Blade Runner
Last Jedi

That second prediction is just barely more than a guess.  This year is especially hard to parse.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

This is why we pay you the big bucks.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Man, I have seen no movies this year.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Me neither but we're only eight days in.

I'll see myself out...

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

And stay out.

Tomahawk Ellingsen

www.extendededition.net

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

For them that wants it, a more objective (and thorough) report on the bakeoff:

https://www.awn.com/vfxworld/2018-acade … ia-imagery

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Well fuck, didn't see that coming.

Final nominees:

War for the Planet of the Apes
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island

Re: VFX Shortlist for 2018 Oscars Announced

Me either!  Genuinely shocked that Dunkirk didn't make it - maybe the model makers have aged out of the voting bloc even sooner than I expected.  And I'm sorry that Okja didn't get a nod, but not shocked.

When I first saw the headline "Shape of Water leads nominations" I thought that meant it had gotten a vfx nom as part of the sweep.  It'd be wrong to say I'm glad that it didn't, but in that crowd it just wasn't on the same scale of achievement.

I'm still going with Apes as the ultimate winner, but who knows how the overall academy will vote.  Jedi's brand recognition might be enough to swing it.