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
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
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
"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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