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SPHERE

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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