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CNET News Video: ILM snags Oscar nods for visual effects
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CNET News Video: ILM snags Oscar nods for visual effects

3:17 /

How do you make a 30-foot robot/semi-truck appear lifelike? What about a creature with tentacles for a face? Those were some of the challenges for the visual-effects teams at San Francisco-based Industrial Light & Magic. CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi talks with the designers behind <i>Transformers</i> and <i>Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End</i> about some of the hurdles involved in creating special effects for an increasingly sophisticated moviegoing public.

[ music ] ^M00:00:03 >> On February 24th at the Academy Awards two crews from Industrial Light and Magic will be going head to head in the category of best visual effects, Transformers and the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. >> Lookie here boys. A lost [inaudible], a lost [inaudible] that never learned to fly. >> That's Davey Jones, an evil villain from the Pirates franchise that brought Industrial Light and Magic Oscar gold in 2006, and could do it again this awards season. >> The trick nowadays is getting an audience to say I don't understand what I'm seeing, how, how could they do that? And that was one of the neat things about Davey Jones is he's got just enough of a foot in both worlds where people would look at him and think well now is that makeup? And then they think well no that can't be makeup cause look at the tentacles, you know, they can't quite pin it down. >> Of the roughly two thousand shots in the movie, about eight hundred of them are computer generated, using both off the shelf software like Maya and proprietary tools the ILM engineers have built. >> On Pirates three we have this giant maelstrom, which is a much huger piece of ocean to be simulating for one thing, and then the particular needs of it being this sort of cone-shaped vortex with the water spinning faster at the bottom than at the outsides, and all those things meant that we had to write a whole new set of tools to make that work. ^M00:01:37 >> [inaudible] robot, you know, a super advanced robot. It's probably Japanese. >> How do you put something that's fake into a shot and make the audience believe it's real? >> That's the question the Transformers visual effects team had to answer when bringing to life fourteen gigantic robotic creatures. >> Is it bumpy, is it smooth? Is it shiny? Is it chrome, is it brass? Or is it metal plate taint with clear coat finish? We did every one of those things, depending on what the surface would be. >> Although the story of transformers is inspired by simple kids' toys, building the CG robots was no simple task. >> This has about fifty one pieces in it, little plastic parts. [inaudible] this prime because of where Michael wanted to go with the complexities of these guys, had ten thousand one hundred and eight parts. >> Competition aside, both ILN teams are thrilled with their recognition their hard work has received, and plan to continue pushing the medium even further. >> I think it caused you to believe that you were looking at a big object in real three dimensional space. >> It's especially fun when something really works with an audience. You know, you see a sequence of shots, and you can actually hear a reaction in the audience. I mean I think that's great, that's what it's all about. >> For the second time Industrial Light and Magic has claimed two of the three nomination spots for this category of Best Visual Effect. The Golden Compass rounds out this year's list. I'm Kara Suboy reporting for CNET News.com. ^M00:03:11 [ music ]

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