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red planet carrie anne moss laser
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Moviemaking has all kinds of special effects in it: physical effects, pyrotechnic effects, makeup effects, sound effects and more! Some characters, such as robot R2-D2 from "Star Wars" can be all of those things at once in certain shots. I don't do any of those effects. I do visual effects: the adding or removing of stuff in the frame after the real world stuff has been shot. CGI animation as opposed to hand drawn (cell) animation. Meaning I can't draw Mickey Mouse. But neither could Walt. He was so self conscious about that. Yet he was Mickey's voice!

Even on a fully CGI 3D rendered movie like Pixar's "The Incredibles" there is an entire visual effects unit doing things like electric zaps and explosions. The difference is I only work in photorealism and I've done it for all the studios, even RKO, and I didn't know that was still a thing!

holes movie dvd disneyBEST OF THE BEST:  The best movie I worked on was "Holes" for Disney and the worst was "All About Steve" for ... I don't want to think about it! Nevertheless "Holes" is, in my opinion, the greatest live action movie the studio has ever done! When I saw the finished version at the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Boulevard I said to myself "I could get run over by an ambulance tomorrow and have completed my life task!" Who wouldn't have wanted to work on a very fine, unusual ensemble picture with something constructive to say about racism and caring. Name another Disney branded film where multiple race based murders occur? Boys loved the book, it made its money back while in theaters, and young males who saw the movie at the time may now be showing it to their own sons. I KNOW they are! When I tell twentysomethings I animated "Holes" they are very appreciative.

red planet dvdWORST OF THE WORST:  "All About Steve" may be the worst studio feature I worked on when it comes to the final product. But the VFX pipeline and our work was structured and challenging with no tech hiccoups. The worst movie to work on behind the scenes (technically) was, by far, "Red Planet." Starring Carrie Anne Moss (shown at left brandishing a laser), it featured actor Val Kilmer getting into a fight with co-star Tom Sizemore. They are both unbearable creeps who should not be hired for anything anytime (except Tom is dead now thank goodness. Kilmer is lingering alive but in physical suffering. So that is good.). These two narcissists refused to work together and had to be composited into sequences from separate shots! This added to the burden on an already VFX heavy movie.

Also acting up was Carrie Anne Moss show at left brandishing that laser targeting device (LTD). She was wearing wires on a nothing shot where the set was lit all saturated blue. She refused to wait for the wire people to un-rig her. She demanded to do the shot with a huge shadow of a wire on her face. John Mesa, a very talented VFX super, had to tediously try to get rid of it using nothing but blue pixels. Yuk!  Carrie Anne also refused to do a topless "getting out of the shower" shot. What can I say, the movie needed a little cheesecake for the nerd boys!  She refused and wore pasties for the shot. This meant animator Dawn Hunt Brooks had to spend a month creating a fake 2D nipple, making it look wet, and applying it to her friggin boob. Talk about Carrie Anne being a time wasting, money wasting boob!

Hard "invisible effects" shots that involve removing something are the most trying of all. If you do your job right nobody knows. You have to point it out on your demo reel. Meanwhile I was horribly struggling with the math behind my shot file formats. It took me one day to make the shot and three days to try to convert it properly between linear and logorhythmic file formats and blah blah. I just wanted to do my shot not worry about file format conversions! Remember this was the year 2000 so the tech was primitive.

FX Super Jeff Okun was driving to FOURTEEN VFX houses in LA at the time to get the job done. Then Digital "Titanic" Domain totally botched its big studio job and small boutique houses had to fill in the gaps caused by their incompetence. And they were the biggest house in town at the time!

All to make a movie only fitfully entertaining. Oh, fun fact, because the lousy script had one astronaut kill another NASA refused to have anything to do with the movie. No tech help, no images of planets, nothing.

red planet movie laser with carrie anne moss