Week 3 – Movies Research

1) Little Shop of Horrors

IMDb: The Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

A nerdy florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed.



Seymour Krelborn is a nerdy orphan working at Mushnik’s, a flower shop in urban Skid Row. He harbors a crush on fellow co-worker Audrey Fulquard, and is berated by Mr. Mushnik daily. One day as Seymour is seeking a new mysterious plant, he finds a very mysterious unidentified plant which he calls Audrey II. The plant seems to have a craving for blood and soon begins to sing for his supper. Soon enough, Seymour feeds Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend to the plant and later, Mushnik for witnessing the death of Audrey’s ex. Will Audrey II take over the world or will Seymour and Audrey defeat it? Written by HannahMontaniwitz

Genres: Comedy | Horror | Musical | Romance | Sci-Fi

Techniques used: SFX

Format captured: 35 mm film

The film’s version of Audrey II was an elaborate creation, using puppets designed by Lyle Conway.

While developing the mouth of the plant for the dialogue scenes and musical numbers, Oz, Conway and his crew struggled to figure out how to make the plant move convincingly. “We kept trying and trying and it didn’t work.”[9] The solution presented itself while reviewing test footage of the puppet. When the film ran backwards or forward at a faster than normal speed, the footage looked more convincing and lifelike. They realized they could film the puppet at a slower speed, making it appear to move faster when played back at normal speed. “By slowing it down it looked it was talking real fast. We then went ‘holy cow, look at that. We can do it.'”[9] The frame rate for filming the plant was slowed to 12 or 16 frames per second, depending on the scene, and frequent screen cuts were used to minimize the amount of screen time the puppet spent with human actors; when interaction was necessary, the actors (usually Moranis) would pantomime and lip sync in slow motion.[9] The film was then sped up to the normal 24 frames per second and voices were reinserted in post-production. Levi Stubbs’ recordings were filtered through a harmonizer when slowed down so that they were coherent for Moranis or Ellen Greene.

There are no blue screens or opticals involved in any of Audrey II’s scenes, with the exception of the reshot ending where the plant is electrocuted, designed by Visual Effects supervisor Bran Ferren, and in some shots during the rampage in the original ending. The plant was made in six different stages of growth and there were three different versions of Mushnik’s shop, making it possible for two units to work with different sized plants at the same time. Each of the talking plants had to be cleaned, re-painted and patched up at the end of each shooting day, which would take up to three hours depending on the size. The “Suppertime” number uses two different sizes of Audrey II. When “Twoey” is singing all alone in the shop, it is actually a smaller size: the same size as when it sang “Feed Me”, but now standing on a scaled down set to make it look larger. The full size one that is seen to interact with Seymour and Mushnik was not provided with lip movement, but was built to swallow Mushnik’s (mechanical) legs. Performing the plant in its largest form required around 60 puppeteers, many of whom had worked with director Frank Oz on previous projects.

Reference: https://j.mp/3fWtrQ2

2) An American Werewolf in London

IMDb: An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.



Two American college students are on a walking tour of Britain and are attacked by a werewolf. One is killed, the other is mauled. The werewolf is killed but reverts to its human form, and the local townspeople are unwilling to acknowledge its existence. The surviving student begins to have nightmares of hunting on four feet at first but then finds that his friend and other recent victims appear to him, demanding that he commit suicide to release them from their curse, being trapped between worlds because of their unnatural deaths.Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Genres: Comedy | Horror

Techniques used: SFX

Format captured: 35 mm film

The special effects, done by the great Rick Baker, are absolutely astounding, arguably more believable than a lot of what we get today. The first transformation scene is one of the best to ever be featured in a werewolf film, especially with the convincing screams of pain from David Naughton. The actual look of the werewolf is also just as great, giving one of the most menacing and evil appearances I’ve ever seen. The howl sounds like a mixture between a man’s scream and an actual beast giving a call, a sound that sends a chill down your spine every time you hear it. These sorts of details remind you that even though there’s comedy in it, Landis did put great focus on the horror aspect of the film.

Aside from that exquisite unusualness, An American Werewolf In London has many other superb characteristics. The cinematography is excellent. The shots of the countryside (actually filmed in Wales) are actually both beautiful and very eerie at the same time. The make-up and transformation effects are unsurpassed. The music, which is primarily a number of different “moon” related pop songs, is also perfect, partially because of the bizarre contrasts in mood that the music creates, which echoes the comedy/tragedy juxtaposition. Unlike many other films, every scene in this one is something I’d like to spend years exploring. Even the ending, unlike other Landis films, is with a tinge of tragedy and sadness. This is not the ending a typical comedy director would bring, as by now we’ve really gotten on the side of David, the scorned protagonist turned bloody villain by way of a curse. It’s fun but not too goofy or bad B-movie-like, and it’s scary without being cheap. It’s basically the finest composting yet of gory theatrics with a cool sense of humor.

Reference: https://j.mp/2VsHELo

3) Total Recall

IMDb: Total Recall (1990)

When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real – or is he?



Douglas Quaid is haunted by a recurring dream about a journey to Mars. He hopes to find out more about this dream and buys a holiday at Rekall Inc. where they sell implanted memories. But something goes wrong with the memory implantation and he remembers being a secret agent fighting against the evil Mars administrator Cohaagen. Now the story really begins and it’s a rollercoaster ride until the massive end of the movie.Written by Harald Mayr <marvin@bike.augusta.de>

Genres: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Techniques used: SFX+VFX

Format captured: 35 mm film (also horizontal) (Eastman 125T 5247, 400T 5295)

On 1st June, 1990 TriStar Pictures and Carolco Pictures released Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall. The film, based on Philip K. Dick’s story ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’, was a box office success and praised as intelligent sci-fi satire, cementing star Arnold Schwarzenegger as a major action hero. The film was also praised for its innovative use of practical stunts, special effects make-up, miniatures, optical compositing and CG rendering – culminating in a visual effects Special Achievement Academy Award for Eric Brevig (visual effects supervisor), Alex Funke (director of miniature photography), Tim McGovern (x-ray skeleton sequence) and Rob Bottin (character visual effects).

For the film’s 25th anniversary, fxguide has gathered members of the Oscar-winning effects team to share their thoughts and memories on the seminal pic – from the almost disastrous x-ray scene, to the ‘smokey mattes’ approach for shooting miniatures and the final reactor shots.

Reference: https://j.mp/36vycwZ | https://j.mp/2VqvoLb

4) Gremlins

IMDb: Gremlins (1984)

A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.



Minature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. ‘Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house. Written by Amazon

Genres: Comedy | Fantasy | Horror

Techniques used: SFX

Format captured: 35 mm film (Eastman 125T 5247, 250T 5293)

Some of the performances were shot on the Courthouse Square and Colonial Street sets of the Universal Studios Lot in Universal City, California (Mrs. Deagle’s house was one such set as well as the opening street scenes in Chinatown, which were filmed on the Warner Bros. Studios backlot). This required fake snow; Dante also felt it was an atmosphere that would make the special effects more convincing. As the special effects relied mainly on puppetry (an earlier attempt to use monkeys was abandoned because the test monkey panicked when made to wear a gremlin head),[12] the actors worked alongside some of the puppets. Nevertheless, after the actors finished their work for good, a great deal of effort was spent finishing the effects. Numerous small rubber puppets, some of which were mechanical, were used to portray Gizmo and the gremlins. They were designed by Chris Walas. There was more than one Gizmo puppet, and occasionally Galligan, when carrying one, would set him down off camera, and when Gizmo appeared again sitting on a surface it was actually a different puppet wired to the surface. These puppets had many limitations. The Gizmo puppets were particularly frustrating because they were smaller and thus broke down more. While Walas recommended making the mogwais larger to make their creation and functioning easier for the special effects team, Dante insisted on keeping their size small to enhance the cuteness of the creatures.[13] Consequently, to satisfy the crew, a scene was included in which the gremlins hang Gizmo on a wall and throw darts at him. This was included on a list that the crew created known to them as the “Horrible Things to do to Gizmo” list.[6]

A few marionettes were also used. Other effects required large mogwai faces and ears to be produced for close-ups, as the puppets were less capable of conveying emotion. Consequently, large props simulating food were needed for the close-ups in the scene in which the mogwai feast after midnight. An enlarged Gizmo puppet was also needed for the scene in which he multiplies. The new mogwai, who popped out of Gizmo’s body as small, furry balls which then started to grow, were balloons and expanded as such. Walas had also created the exploding gremlin in the microwave by means of a balloon that was allowed to burst.[6]

Reference: https://j.mp/3luzPPU

5) The Abyss

IMDb: The Abyss (1989)

A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and faces danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.



Formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on Earth. Written by Jwelch5742

Genres: Adventure | Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Techniques used: SFX+VFX

Format captured: 65 mm film (special effects) (Eastman) 35 mm film (also horizontal) (Eastman)

Cameron had originally planned to shoot on location in the Bahamas where the story was set but quickly realized that he needed to have a completely controlled environment because of the stunts and special visual effects involved.[12] He considered shooting the film in Malta, which had the largest unfiltered tank of water, but it was not adequate for Cameron’s needs.[7] Underwater sequences for the film were shot at a unit of the Gaffney Studios, situated south of Cherokee Falls, outside Gaffney, South Carolina, which had been abandoned by Duke Power officials after previously spending $700 million constructing the Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant, along Owensby Street, Gaffney, South Carolina.[11]

The special visual effects work was divided up among seven FX divisions with motion control work by Dream Quest Images and computer graphics and opticals by ILM.[9] ILM designed a program to produce surface waves of differing sizes and kinetic properties for the pseudopod.[13] For the moment where it mimics Bud and Lindsey’s faces, Ed Harris had eight of his facial expressions scanned while twelve of Mastrantonio’s were scanned via software used to create computer-generated sculptures. The set was photographed from every angle and digitally recreated so that the pseudopod could be accurately composited into the live-action footage.[13] The company spent six months to create 75 seconds of computer graphics needed for the creature. The film was to have opened on July 4, 1989, but its release was delayed for more than a month by production and special effects problems.[10] The animated sequences were supervised by ILM animation director Wes Takahashi.[21] The technology they used for the CGI was SGI and Apple.

Reference: https://j.mp/36uX7AF

6) Independence Day

IMDb: Independence Day (1996)

The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.



On July 2nd, communications systems worldwide are sent into chaos by a strange atmospheric interference. It is soon learned by the military that a number of enormous objects are on a collision course with Earth. At first thought to be meteors, they are later revealed to be gigantic spacecraft, piloted by a mysterious alien species. After attempts to communicate with the aliens go nowhere, David Levinson, an ex-scientist turned cable technician, discovers that the aliens are going to attack major points around the globe in less than a day. On July 3rd, the aliens all but obliterate New York, Los Angeles and Washington, as well as Paris, London, Houston and Moscow. The survivors set out in convoys towards Area 51, a strange government testing ground where it is rumored the military has a captured alien spacecraft of their own. The survivors devise a plan to fight back against the enslaving aliens, and July 4th becomes the day humanity will fight for its freedom. July 4th is their …Written by Gustaf Molin <gumo@hem2.passagen.se>

Genres: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi

Techniques used: SFX+VFX

Format captured: 35 mm film (Eastman EXR 100T 5248, EXR 200T 5293, EXR 500T 5298)

A then-record 3,000-plus special effects shots would ultimately be required for the film.[16] The shoot utilized on-set, in-camera special effects more often than computer-generated effects in an effort to save money and get more authentic pyrotechnic results.[6] Many of these shots were accomplished at Hughes Aircraft in Culver City, California, where the film’s art department, motion control photography teams, pyrotechnics team, and model shop were headquartered[dubious – discuss]. The production’s model-making department built more than twice as many miniatures for the production than had ever been built for any film before by creating miniatures for buildings, city streets, aircraft, landmarks, and monuments.[18] The crew also built miniatures for several of the spaceships featured in the film, including a 30-foot (9.1 m) destroyer model[19] and a version of the mother ship spanning 12 feet (3.7 m).[20] City streets were recreated, then tilted upright beneath a high-speed camera mounted on a scaffolding filming downwards. An explosion would be ignited below the model, and flames would rise towards the camera, engulfing the tilted model and creating the rolling “wall of destruction” look seen in the film.[21] A model of the White Housewas also created, covering 10 feet (3.0 m) by 5 feet (1.5 m), and was used in forced-perspective shots before being destroyed in a similar fashion for its destruction scene.[22] The detonation took a week to plan[10] and required 40 explosive charges.[22]

The production team moved to the Bonneville Salt Flats to film three scenes, then returned to California to film in various places around Los Angeles, including Hughes Aircraft where sets for the cable company and Area 51 interiors were constructed at a former aircraft plant. Sets for the latter included corridors containing windows that were covered with blue material. The filmmakers originally intended to use the chroma key technique to make it appear as if an activity was happening on the other side of the glass, but the composited images were not added to the final print because production designers decided the blue panels gave the sets a “clinical look”.[30] The attacker hangar set contained an attacker mockup 65 feet (20 m) wide[18] that took four months to build.[10] The White House interior sets used had already been built for The American President and had previously been used for Nixon.[22] Principal photography completed on November 3, 1995.[10]

Reference: https://j.mp/36ttBex

7) Blade Runner 2049

IMDb: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Young Blade Runner K’s discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former Blade Runner Rick Deckard, who’s been missing for thirty years.



Thirty years after the events of Blade Runner (1982), a new Blade Runner, L.A.P.D. Officer “K” (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former L.A.P.D. Blade Runner, who has been missing for thirty years.Written by Warner Bros. Pictures

Genres: Action | Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Techniques used: VFX

Format captured: Codex

The cyberpunk atmosphere and exquisite scenes created by Blade Runner 2049 are still memorable for movie fans. It is with excellent image effects that “Blade Runner 2049” won the 2018 Oscar nomination for best visual effects. Among them, The video studio Rodeo FX has played an important role in the production of film CG composting.

Some CG composting scenes can be seen at a glance, such as a car flying over Los Angeles in the future, or some scenery that does not exist on earth, but others are not so easy to distinguish. Rodeo FX recently announced a real scene of the filming and The video of the CG scene comparison opened our eyes.

After the movie’s protagonist K arrives in Las Vegas, which has been turned into ruins, the yellow dust in the sky and the high-rise buildings looming behind are composited by CG, which we can all guess, but the subsequent sweatshops and many casino hotels The scene also uses CG composting, the windows on the roof of the factory, the broken workshop and even the depth of the hotel, the effect of CG on scene enhancement and atmosphere creation is amazing.

As the well-known video studio Rodeo FX, they are also featured in the popular TV series “Game of Thrones”. Of course, we all know that the magnificent Pyramid of Meereen is fake, but when Rodeo FX uses video to restore it step by step Out of nothing, it is still amazing.

K’s girlfriend Joi was built with an interesting ‘shell’ effect that aims to balance the her body opacity with the fact that she is a hologram. To do this, Framestore created an inverse camera effect that allows us to look through her body from the front and see through to the side of her facing away from the camera, from the inside. This required a digital version of Joi that is used to render the inside of her coat. The team had to track her body in the plate as accurately as possible and sculpt her CG coat per shot to match the plate coat.

Thus, the finished look can either be used as a way to make the audience forget her true nature – as K sometimes does himself – or alternatively to remind us of what she is at certain times, as a story point.

The creation of film and television dramas has always been subject to many technical restrictions, the most fundamental of which is the dependence on the real scene. Although CG technology has been developed for many years, CG has always given people a false feeling, whether it is made out of nothing or modified the characters in the scene. Now with the continuous advancement of technology, we have seen more and more blockbuster films in the visual field. The effect is already difficult to distinguish between true and false. Perhaps the film and television drama will soon be able to enter a more pure stage of creation.

Reference: https://j.mp/3fXnPVG | https://j.mp/2JGj4nl | https://j.mp/3mvfUSd

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