Special Visual Effects
Although their work started well before the start of principal
photography, the majority of visual-effects supervisor Jeffrey
A. Okun and visual effects producer Tom Boland's efforts were
required after the main unit completed its jobs. Working on the
cutting edge of CGI (computer generated imagery) technology, Okun
and Boland were charged to create "virtual sets." "Had
the cargo bay of the spacecraft been built as a 'practical' set,"
says Okun, "it would have been bigger than three football
fields. So, working closely with Norman Reynolds, we created a
virtual cargo bay, as well as the sphere itself. That way, we
could keep designing and re-designing right up until the very
end, changing the concept according to the way the story developed
while the film was being made."
Sphere is also filled with underwater creatures that were
created by the visual- effects team with a combination of CGI
and animatronics. Says Okun, "What Barry did -- and he was
very strong on this point -- was to throw out anything that isn't
in nature. What he wanted was to take natural things and have
them act or look slightly unnatural, like the jellyfish that only
has five tentacles. If we tried to sell him on some supernatural
stuff, he'd throw books of deep-sea-dwelling creatures on the
table and say `They're scarier than any movie monster I've ever
seen.' And he was right."
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