January 25, 2007

Look Effects Lends Visual Effects Expertise to Two Sundance Films

Park City, Utah - Hollywood’s Look Effects (www.lookfx.com) is lending its visual effects expertise to participants at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. With feature credits including Golden Globe nominees Blood Diamond, Apocalypto, The Fountain, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and last year’s Sundance darling Little Miss Sunshine, Look Effects is the sole visual effects provider on two films debuting at Sundance, The Nines and Dark Matter.

Signaling a new era of greater sophistication and technique in independent film production, both film’s directors entrusted Look Effects and Look’s visual effects supervisors to develop creative and technically challenging visual effects sequences. Look’s Henrik Fett served as visual effects supervisor on Dark Matter, while Look’s Max Ivins handled the visual effects supervision on The Nines.

For The Nines directed by John August and starring Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis, and Melissa McCarthy, Look’s effects and animations further blurred the distinction between what is happening in reality and the gaming world. The standout sequence of the 19 shots Look Effects created for the film, crescendos in a play between live action, CG animation, and image manipulation that results in a rollercoaster ride of surrealism. This extraordinary flying sequence which expands over 40 seconds of film, witnesses a virtual melting of actors, peeling of set interiors then an amazing flight over West Los Angeles, the ocean, then up into a spectrally animated universe. “The variety of looks, techniques and the custom production path the sequence required were quite challenging,” summarizes Ivins.

In Chen Shi-Zheng’s Dark Matter starring Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, and Blair Brown, Look Effects completed 28 shots including the main title sequence, which illustrates the creation of the universe. For this sequence, Look Effects was challenged with creating a realistic cosmic event that would appear as organic (non-CGI) as possible without the budget to shoot original elements. To accomplish this task, Look developed new ways of manipulating existing footage of organic elements into a celestial fashion then choreographing and incorporating them with the selective use of CG animations. Fett credits the success of the shots to extensive design development recalling, “The time the director spent with us planning and specifying the details made a huge difference.”

Dark Matter producer Janet Yang praises Look’s achievements saying, “We are thrilled with the work Look Effects has done for us and we have relished the congenial, collaborative environment in which they work. Look artfully and economically helped realize our vision for the film and for this we are eternally grateful. For visual effects, Look will always be our first stop.”

“Increasingly, we are seeing independent film producers and directors involving us in their effects design and supervision for the types of sequences that we usually associate with major studio productions,” says Mark Driscoll, president of Look Effects, adding, “Involving us early in their pre-production development gives them more creative options and greater economy.”

The Nines and Dark Matter premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21and January 23, respectively.