YellowDog had a great time at the VFX Festival in London this week. Impossible to review everything with justice, here, Jack at YellowDog shares his 'Big Take Away'.

I wanted my final take away from the VFX Festival in London to be from the final session: ILM London’s breakdown and insights into Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

London was the creative hub for a Star Wars film for the first time on Last Jedi. This was a breakdown too good to miss.

My notes would usually be sprawling, extensive details of VFX tools, techniques, and surprises cumbersomely scribbled over reams of A4.

And yet, I made no notes. Here’s why.

Before arriving at the talk, I came with an agenda: to leave the cinema and share my knowledge of the tools ILM London used: where did they model with Houdini, where did they revert to Maya, how did ILM blend mocap with puppetry with CG with green screen and so on.

ILM split their Star Wars breakdown talk into three areas. Much of which you can check out in this Art of VFX post:

  1. Vehicles
  2. Animals
  3. Character, or more specifically, The Supreme leader Snoke.

The pick of the 1850 VFX shots that Mike Mulholland, VFX supervisor, and Steve Aplin, director of animation for ILM London, went through over the course of the hour was interesting and inspiring.

But, interesting and inspiring is kind of what you’d expect from the makers of one of the most visually brilliant films of modern times.

What has stayed with me, and what will for several days, was the “Star Wars sizzle reel”.

The Sizzle reel was a plethora of Star Wars awesomeness all smashed together and blown up to explosive music played on ‘the big screen.’  I can still feel the bass of that reel thumping in my chest now.

My festival highlight: simply watching top notch VFX on the big screen, over and over again.

At YellowDog, our render technology is interested in the detail: the modelling software, the render engine, the plugins, the python scripts, the data handling. But first and foremost, we damn love films and VFX and animation. Rarely do we, like so many in the media and entertainment industry, take the time to just sit back and enjoy VFX in its rightful home: the cinema.

So my take away is this: you’ll need to go to an ILM or a Blue Zoo or a Territory or a Milk VFX session yourself if you want to get stuck into breakdown knowledge and secrets.

And whilst you’re waiting for that opportunity, just relax and remember that you’re a fan and that’s probably what brought you to VFX in the first place.

Go be a fan; put your notepads and laptops down occasionally.


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