VFX Oscar Nominees Reveal Biggest Challenges on ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Ex Machina,’ ‘The Martian’ (Video)

Visual artists spill secrets in new episode of “Eyes & Ears on the Oscars” in partnership with Dolby

The 2016 Oscar nominees best visual effects can draw very clear pictures of how they accomplished their respective feats in films like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Revenant.”

Four of the five visual artists nominated sat with TheWrap Awards Editor Steve Pond to discuss how they produced spectacular scenes featuring gruesome bear attacks to souped-up lightsabers.

Rich McBride (“The Revenant”), Paul Norris (“Ex Machina”), Richard Stammers (“The Martian”) and Roger Guyett (“The Force Awakens”) told Pond about their biggest challenges working on micro and oversize budgets and the perfect way to maul Leonardo DiCaprio.

“They shot on all anamorphic lenses, so there’s quite a lot of distortion and organic things going,” said Norris of the Alicia Vikander film “Ex Machina.” “The way they shot everything with sets, the glass and mirrors.”

Anamorphic lenses often stretch and distort images in a standard viewing frame, an ambitious technique for a film with a smaller budget like Alex Garland‘s sci-fi indie.

Not so small? The expenditure for “The Force Awakens,” backed by Lucasfilm and parent company Disney.

The film is drenched in effects, and Guyett said each one came with the question, “Was the image that we were putting on the screens the right kind of image? And would people feel the spirit of those earlier movies?”

On ‘The Martian,” Stammers said time was the scarcest resource. “[The shoot] was particularly challenging because we had a relatively short schedule. Most films I’ve done with [director] Ridley Scott we’ve had about 18 months,” he said.

“Our post schedule got curtailed the first few weeks in, they brought the release date earlier to get away from his movie,” Stammers added, pointing at Guyett.

McBride faced intense pressure to make a CG bear attack look convincing in director Alejandro G. Inarritu’s “The Revenant.” “That was probably the first conversation I had with Alejandro, was about that scene,” McBride said. “If there’s one moment within that scene that doesn’t work, then the movie fails.”

See this and more in TheWrap’s chat with the 2016 Visual Effects Oscar nominees, in partnership with Dolby.

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