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HOLLOW MAN

About The Special Effects

In addition to countless technical quandaries presented by filming an invisible man interacting with the visible world, Verhoeven remembers, "There were times we did scenes without relying on any digital effects; we were just expressing the issue of invisibility as a point-of-view shot."

As difficult as the motion pictures many shots were, combined they could not match the rigorous demands of the visual effects arena. Verhoeven and his team quickly discovered that the 560 visual effects would be much more complicated than originally anticipated.

The first category of effect employed was known as bio-phase shifting, phase shifting a living creature out of the visible spectrum layer by layer. Today's audience will not settle for merely imagining Sebastian Caines' transformation from normality to invisibility. Viewers demand to experience it, especially when Paul Verhoeven is in command. The director called on every recent breakthrough in visual effects technology and computer graphics imagery and sought the services of the fields leading innovators.

Senior visual effects supervisor Scott E. Anderson says, "Fortunately, Columbia Pictures backed a dedicated research effort on human motion, physiology and animation. The result was a very detailed generic human our digital body that showed how we could recreate human physiology."

"There are three transformations in the movie," Verhoeven reveals. "One experiment with a gorilla, and two with Sebastian. Sebastian becomes invisible, and later attempts to return to visibility but fails.

"He disappears and appears in intricate layers. As the radiated fluid enters his system, layers of flesh seem to liquefy. Then the muscular system dissolves, leaving a struggling skeleton wrapped with blood vessels and stuffed with the major organs. Then the organs go. The blood vessels go, leaving only a skeleton. Then the skeleton evaporates into nothingness."

Imageworks artist, technicians and designers made lengthy visits to medical facilities and schools to examine human bodies, make photographs and drawings, go through anatomical courses and observe autopsies. They had to know exactly what happens when you cut a human body and when you peel real skin. They were apprised on how liquid things are, how much fat there is and even how light reflects off muscles and liquids.

"Through my daughter, who is an art student," Verhoeven elaborates, "we found a museum in Florence, Italy, that is amazing. It houses anatomical wax sculptures with skin peeled off so you can see veins, and you can see muscles and even, partially, bones or whatever lies beneath. You see tendons and the skeleton and the fat. It was all done by a woman in the 16th or 17th century, and they are anatomically perfect."

"We studied her work," jests Verhoeven, "so one of our technical advisors was three or four hundred years old."

To accomplish the transformation sequences, special software had to be written to allow the internal matter of the human form to be realized on screen.

Scott Anderson explains, "Computers typically use surface textures mapped onto the outer edges of an object. It works this way to minimize processing time. Over the years, advances have been made to enable the creation of three-dimensional objects in the digital world, exp

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