We often suspend our disbelief when watching science-fiction movies. We know that flying saucers don't exist (or do they?) but filmmakers have honed the art of creating fantastic stories supported by believable effects, allowing us to be immersed in the moment. We want to believe...
From the elaborate miniatures were created for Star Wars, Close Encounters, Star Trek and the first Battlestar Galactica series in the 1970's by pioneers John Dykstra and Douglas Trumbull, to the completely digital environments made for Independence Day, The Matrix, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Stargate SG-1, VFX artists are challenged to continually raise the bar on detail, integration and believability.
In shots where the actors are in the scene, seamless blending becomes paramount. In the UFO student project at Lost Boys Learning on Vancouver Island, there is an emphasis on photo-realistic integration of elements such as foreground objects (trees, architectural structures, people, etc.), shadows, reflections and interactive light. Students are encouraged to consider a more subtle portrayal of the UFO to rely more on integration and interaction, and to a imply partially concealed presence.
In the first week, sequences are designed, locations scouted, actors and costumes prepped, lighting organized and crews assembled. In the following 4 weeks, ships are modeled, textured, animated, and lit, and effects are composited, resulting in an industry relevant sequence for the student's demo reel.