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Going practical for Prometheus in my final “Oscar Effects” column

February 24th, 2013 by Rick Marshall · No Comments ·

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My final “Oscar Effects” column for Digital Trends looks at Ridley Scott’s “Alien” prequel movie, “Prometheus,” and the way the acclaimed director and his team mixed practical and digital effects to create the future tech and terrifying creatures seen in the movie.

“Prometheus” is an interesting nominee in the “Visual effects” category for several reasons, the first being that “Alien” won an Oscar in this very same category back in 1979. “Prometheus” is also notable because Scott favors practical effects over digital effects to a far greater degree than the filmmakers behind many of the other “Visual Effects” nominees. In a category crammed full of CGI-fueled films, “Prometheus” still feels very old-school in its approach to visual effects when compared to “Life Of Pi” or “The Hobbit,” for example.

Here’s an excerpt from my column:

A purist who prefers practical effects over computer-generated imagery, Scott eventually hired Moving Picture Company to handle the bulk of the film’s digital-effects shots, with other studios such as Weta Digital assisting with certain effects-driven sequences. (The opening scene with the disintegrating “Engineer” was produced by Weta). In the end, approximately 1,300 shots were created from digital effects, with Scott charging production designer Arthur Max with the task of deconstructing the visual elements of Alien and “reverse-engineering” them for Prometheus while retaining the dark, eerie blend of sci-fi and horror that gave the first film such a unique tone.

“[CGI] has been added, but you don’t smell it, the way you do on other films,” Max told Wired UK. “There’s enough traditional filmmaking to seduce the audience, so they feel it’s a real place and it’s really happening.”

You can read the rest of the column at DigitalTrends.com.

Tags: clips · movies