Belfast Telegraph

US special effects guru shares his movie-making secrets

By Amanda Poole

They are the behind-the-scenes team who create the magic of cinema. The president of cutting edge California-based studio Atomic Fiction is in Belfast to share the tricks of the big screen with Northern Ireland's present and future movie makers.

Kevin Baillie (32), from Seattle, has supervised the visual effects on numerous movies including Superman Returns, Hellboy and Transformers 3.

His team of visual effect artists use creativity, imagination and skill to bring weird and wonderful ideas to life and thrill movie fans.

He was at the University of Ulster's Belfast campus yesterday to deliver a lecture - sponsored by the university and NI Screen - to animators, programmers, software developers and students about his career and how magical film scenes are made. "I was obsessed with movies ever since I was a kid and saw Star Wars and ET," he said.

"My dad said I could barely see over the popcorn bucket at the movies! As soon as Jurassic Park came out, when I was in ninth grade, I said: 'I have to do this for a living'.

"I got a job in Lucas Film working on Star Wars two days after I graduated from high school and then I founded my own company with my business partner Ryan Tudhope."

Kevin told the Belfast Telegraph that he is enjoying his time in Northern Ireland and speaking to people interested in developing a career in visual effects.

"Everyone here is so enthusiastic," he said.

"Everyone is passionate about learning. It's invigorating and really inspiring to be in Belfast."

You've seen the film ... but how do they bring a story to life?

Kevin explains how three unforgettable moments were brought to the big screen

A Christmas Carol, 2009

"It's a fully animated motion capture movie. That was a very different experience because it's all completely digital.

"There's no photography to put something into. You're creating everything from scratch on your own.

"We had to take really precise, right down to the micro metre, measurements, of Jim Carrey and do a complete 3D representation of his face. Then we worked with a sculptor to take this 3D representation of Jim Carrey's face and sort of make a version of Scrooge that had the DNA of Jim Carrey.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, 2007

"In one scene there are a bunch of dead bodies floating underneath the water.

"This meant having to do hundreds of dead computer-generated people floating by.

"We starting out when we were shooting it, with extras dressed up as dead people, taking extensive reference photography. We then built computer generated versions of the dead people, using this reference as our bible of where to start from."

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, 2005

"In the film Dumbledore stores memories in this bowl called a Pensieve.

"They are kind of pulling memories out of Dumbledore's head and dropping them in to this liquid - kinda cool magical stuff. They didn't even really know what they wanted these memories to look like.

"There is just a very vague description in the book that we had to work from.

"We did a bunch of 2D concept art, where artists were painting over an image of the movie.

"We worked back and forth with the director and came up with a look that he liked.

"We then developed customer software to do the liquid in the bowl and this stuff floating down into it."

“We scanned that physical sculpture back into the computer to make Jim Carey’s face.”

Please also change customer to custom in the following sentence at the bottom of the piece re Harry Potter

“We developed customer software to do the liquid in the bowl and this stuff floating down into it.”

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph