September 22, 2013

Explore the CG World of 'Oz the Great and Powerful'

The wonder of The Wizard of Oz has spanned generations, delighting both young and old. In its time, the special effects were quite a sight to see -- the moment Dorothy opens the door from her bland black and white life on the farm to see the vibrance of a new world. And, although its origin story, Oz the Great and Powerfuldirected by Sam Raimi, left fans of the original Oz a little less than dazzled, the VFX concepts of Sony Imageworks' are definitely worth exploring. Take a look at a behind the scenes video, with commentary from Oscar-winning VFX Supervisor Scott Stokdyk, after the jump:

If you were thinking that Oz the Great and Powerful was really, really effects driven, suffice it to say -- you'd be right. Out of the film’s 1,800 shots, 1,500 contained VFX, making the film a huge undertaking for the VFX team, composed of lead house Imageworks, as well as Digiscope, Luma Pictures, Method, Evil Eye Pictures and Reliance MediaWorks.

According to Stokdyk, their desire, in terms of design, was to "bring volume and detail" to their CG environments, which is apparent in so much of the film. Concept artwork inspired the overall look of the backgrounds and environments you see in the film, however a lot of care was taken the closer the shot was, to add minute details, like mist and snow, that the concept art couldn't capture or provide.

In the video, many sequences are covered, such as the "Balloon Crash" over the river rapids, in which Imageworks designed and custom-built the canyon, with its jagged rocks and rushing river, which all started with a blue screen element. As Stokdyk explains, the water effects required multiple layers of foam, spray, mist, and detailed splashes to get what is seen on-screen.

Whether you're interested in getting into CGI and VFX, an Oz fan, or just like to look at cool behind the scenes stuff, I'm sure there's something for everyone in the video above. No doubt hearing the VFX Supervisor himself talk about the team's approach to creating the dreamlike world of Oz is something worth taking time out for.

What do you think about Imageworks' and Stokdyk's approach to the visual effects on Oz the Great and Powerful? Let us know in the comments.

[via It's Art Mag & Filmmaker IQ]

Your Comment

11 Comments

eh, I found that vfx in Oz the great and powerful sums up about everything bad with CGI now a days: Extremely artificial, over reliance on green screens (you can almost picture the actor walking around on the stage and not some magical world), overkill in design (MORE IS MORE mindset),

September 22, 2013 at 11:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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heilherzog

I can certainly understand this point of veiw, although on the flip side, we've reached a pinnacle of acting where the actors cannot be dependent on what's in there hands anymore. Case in point being the Dark Forest, where Oz is carrying China, there's nothing actually in his arm. So not only must he protray a believable character, but also create a beleiveable illusion of carrying a child, and a monkey on his back. Not every actor up and coming can do that kind of improv. The bad ones, well, you'll be able to tell where they CGI' a child into their arms, and the good ones will leave you wondering if a dummy prop was used, or a live, squirming blue suit child... or else the best cinematography teams will be the ones who can pick up the ball with the acting talent their given.

September 23, 2013 at 12:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Morgan Davis

Akira Kurosawa was known to build elaborate sets, often whole towns with authentic hand made props, for his films. His financiers hated it. Why not just use a stage like everyone else? His reasoning was this; the best way he knew to help his actors give better performances was by making the world around them as real as possible.

September 23, 2013 at 3:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

CG and VFX aside, i found this film to be one of the best color grades ever made off a RED EPIC/SCARLETT .

Albeit theere were alot of post VFX shots that did not need cameras color science but the overall look of the film/ color gamut was on par with an alexa

September 23, 2013 at 2:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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JAYEEE

I have to say that, after having seen a great bunch of their recent work, that Imageworks have immense problems with sims of any kind: Their water, smoke, fire, mist, spray, clouds etc. all seem to be stuck in fluid sims' uncanny valley. In comparison to that, ILM (Star Trek into Darkness, Pacific Rim), Weta (TinTin) and some specialized vendors like Scanline (Hereafter) or MPC (ship sinking in "Life of Pi") seem to have harnessed the complexity of this VFX aspect way more than the folks at Imageworks have. Just compare the sim-work in Pacific Rim to that seen in the clips here. I think Oz' artificial look is not a good example for their work, aside from fluid sims their work on Men in Black 3 is spot on and a better showboat!

September 23, 2013 at 12:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MattN.

Oh and btw: Not knowing what both were shot on I instantly assumed that Pacific Rim and Oz were shot on Reds, as I disliked their looks (not the overall design of the shots, which especially with Pacific Rim is Guillerom Navarro-awesomeness, but the look of the image). You might argue that me disliking these looks is wrong, because of reasons a,b and c, but I can still spot a RED shot film much easier than I could tell 35mm and Alexa material apart. It is remarkable that it has to be pointed out, when the grading process makes RED footage actually look more like Alexa footage, clearly implying which of both is the golden standard to strive after.

September 23, 2013 at 8:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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MattN.

Very true. My eyes tell me Red has a very specific colour palette and I always hope that it might change and get better. We'll see with Dragon but I have a feeling it wont.

September 24, 2013 at 1:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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JPS

Having watched this recently in 2d, I found the effects interesting to see the least.
Due to the fact the film was obviously shot for 3d these computer generated elements definitely gave depth, albeit in an awkward kind of way. The thing I liked though is that elements (landscapes e.t.c) that weren't for 3d purposes were very reminiscent of the 50's "shot in a factory look", don't know if this was intentional and unsure if this was only as I watched in 2d. I kind of liked that (perhaps unintentional) throwback. The performances and narrative was very patchy, you could definitely see Raimi's style all through it at least though.

September 23, 2013 at 7:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jonny H

Extremely impressive work with extremely unimpressive results.

September 23, 2013 at 5:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anon

Exactly my thoughts.

September 24, 2013 at 10:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Beau Wright

Excessive CGI does not a good film make. The folks in Hollywood seem to have forgotten that rule.

September 29, 2013 at 1:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan H