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AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS

About The Special Effects
With the help of visual effects supervisor John Grower, his Santa Barbara, California team, and digital effects supervisor Bruce Walters, the first digital werewolf in history has been filmed. "It was always going to be a digital werewolf because we wanted to use all the advances in special effects," says director/writer/executive producer Anthony Waller. "Werewolves on screen have always looked unrealistic, with people wearing costumes and they were never really scary or convincing. Ours had to be convincing beyond 'An American Werewolf in London' which won an Oscar for its special effects, but even that film was limited in what it could show. The werewolf didn't walk or run in its entirety. They could only show parts of it. Ours will be running and jumping and springing out of fountains. The first CGI werewolf in history!"

There were four main sequences which needed digital computer graphics: anything with the werewolf; the falling scene from the Eiffel Tower; Serafine's transformation, which also included highlighting the prosthetic make­up; and removing legs or parts of bodies, and backgrounds that were not needed.

The first thing that happened was that director Waller would run through exactly what he wanted on screen and to approve the story boards. Once he had decided on them it was essential to stick to them exactly. John Grower's team of 25 people at Santa Barbara Studios began working on backgrounds and effects from the beginning of the shoot.

"Once the look of the werewolf was defined, we then did a half­scale clay sculpture that was very detailed and it was sent to Jez Harris in England. with Joachim Gruninger, he was designing a puppet werewolf to use for close­ups," explains John Grower. "We sent off another to a company in Utah to digitize so that we had a database to work to. From there we started to define the joints and bones and the angles that the arms and legs could move in. The shoulders had to rotate up and down, muscles had to work, if the arm is in a certain position, and when the neck stretches, there are certain ligaments that stick out ­­ it all had to be put into the database."

From there they were able to start to animate and block in the motion of the werewolf and having it act to camera which took as many as sixty interactions. In normal film terms, sixty takes. The quality of the information that goes in is important so a good animator is vital and they don't come better than James Straus. One of the four top animators on "Jurassic Park," his most recent film was "Dragonheart," for which he received an Academy Award nomination. He joined SBS as their animation director.

Bruce Walters and his assistant Nick Waller were responsible for shooting backgrounds and sets into which the werewolf or actors would be digitally placed. "The werewolf skin is actually airbrushed in. We don't use paint, it's all done on the computer. To match the colors to the puppet we took photographs and picked the colors off so they would be an exact match," Bruce explains. "The important thing is the quality of the hair. The werewolf hair is kind of curly and straight in some areas. The tricky part is getting them to move! Every hair on the werewolf is a separate model. Every hair has its specific actions such as color, length, the shape of its shadow. Then it has to react to movement so that when the werewolf is moving, it moves with it. Each werewolf was covered with 400,000 digital hairs."

There were about 40 werewolf shots that were computer generated. Some have as many as three werewolves in one shot all doing differe

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