Tip #1297: Super Alien Models of Valerian

… for Visual Effects

Tip #1297: Super Alien Models of Valerian

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Note that motion capture, more than pure design, was the foundation for these chararacters.

(Image courtesy of VFXVoice.com)

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This article, written by Ian Failes, first appeared in VFXVoice.com. This is a summary.

Among the many creatures and aliens showcased in director Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are members of the Pearl, a beautiful race of humanoid-like creatures who live in a picturesque beach setting.

The Pearl were completely synthetic creations by Weta Digital, which generated the characters from performances by actors with motion-capture equipment for their face and bodies.

VFX Voice visited Weta Digital in Wellington to find out more from the studio’s Visual Effects Supervisor, Martin Hill, as he runs down some of the main challenges his team faced in making the Pearl. Here are his comments:

Luc didn’t want to go completely human for the faces – otherwise he’d have put makeup on them and just [filmed] them, of course. He wanted to be able to make them abstract enough from their selves that although we could still read their emotions and read their personalities and read their characters, they were still very much not of this world. They were very alien faces. We spent quite a lot of time working at how we can alter their features and still carry their personality across in terms of the eyes.

One of the great things about the performance capture that we did, particularly the stuff on the set, was, as Luc was filming it, he was doing it as both capture and filming – composing the shot. The terrific thing about that is he’s getting the performance he wants. We could rely on the motion capture very heavily as the performance. Essentially, that ‘template’ is what Luc would expect back. That was a really great help for us when it came to giving shots the first-look animation. Nothing was unexpected. The animation would look pretty much exactly like the live template. Obviously, there was finesse and touches we added because the proportions are a little bit different.


The article goes into more detail on how these creatures were created, along with video, images and links.

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