Recently, a movie went up in theaters called "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" starring some guy named Brad Pitt ... Hmm, that sounds familiar somehow... :)
Anyway, I have a special relationship with the effects in this film, because all the pretty stuff you see is done in mental ray, which makes me happy. (Yeah, I'm easy to please that way, LOL).
There is an almost ridiculously pretty website dedicated to The Visual Effects of Benjamin Button that I suggest you visit, if not only for the beautiful design of the site itself.
A lot of the "old benjamin" work was done by Digital Domain, and I suggest you check out their very cool breakdown of the process. Brad Pitt's digital head replacement was rendered in mental ray and is, I must say, probably one of the best skin shadings put to film to date.
Hydraulx, and their sister company Lola did a lot of the "youthenizing" effects both on Pitt and Blanchett. I actually had the pleasure to see first hand the de-aging work on Pitt when I visited Hydraulx (which can be witnessed earlier in this very blog), and I had no idea at the time of the significance of the de-aged Brad Pitt I was being shown.
What was truly interesting about the Lola de-aging process is how manual it is. Its as far from "push a button and the computer does the work" that it can possibly be. Quite the opposite, it's nearly a matter of pulling every pixel manually from one place to another, the computer just helps with doing it over multiple frames, but even that requires TLC to look nice. I applaud the work here.
And Hydraulx/Lola also did digital head replacements of Kate Blanchett onto a professional ballerinas body, again using mental ray, and good 'ole misss_fast_skin shaders.
The Digital Skinny
Its fun for me, as the father of the good o'le mental ray skin shader, to see my little baby all grown up.
When I was in Singapore (see earlier in this blog) I met with Paul Hellard and friends from Ballistic Publishing and flipped through almost every one of their various computer art books (which I suggest y'all go and buy because they are exquisitly printed), I couldn't help but notice (to my poorly hidden personal glee) the amount of character renderings that were done in mental ray and with my o'le honey misss_fast_skin shader.
If you havn't checked out the mental ray skin shader, I suggest you try it, there are some posts in this very blog about it (searching for "skin" is a good start).
I close off this post with a video from TED.COM (if you are not a TED nut, I invite you to be one from today) about giving Benjamin Button his face.
I hope to be posting more again Real Soon. Meanwhile, follow me on twitter for shorter bursts of randomness that doesn't go into this blog.
Thank you for your time!