‘Ready Player One’ Juxtaposes Real, Virtual Via VFX From Three Shops

Variety | 2/21/2019 | Paula Parisi
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Director Steven Spielberg set an ambitious goal for himself and his “Ready Player One” VFX team: weaving viewers in and out of a virtual world within the storytelling parameters of a traditional film. The movie, released by Warner Bros. in March, is one of five up for a visual effects Oscar this year.

To adapt Ernest Cline’s 2011 young adult novel about kids who escape a dystopian 2045 by immersing themselves in a massively multiplayer online simulation game, the talents of no fewer than 11 tech firms were required. The bulk of the work fell to three companies: Digital Domain, Industrial Light & Magic and Territory Studio.

Plot - Teenage - Gamer - Wade - Watts

The plot focuses on teenage gamer Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who, like most of the underemployed population, spends what seems like every waking hour role-playing inside the virtual world called Oasis. In the game, he competes in a series of puzzles, the successful completion of which will result in ownership of the Oasis itself.

The film’s two distinct worlds — a dingy, overcrowded reality in which people live piled on top of each other in housing units called stacks, and the vividly extravagant Oasis — provided a natural division of labor for the effects teams: Digital Domain managed previsualization for the entire film, handled motion capture and virtual sets and also created the real-world effects. ILM conjured the CGI for the Oasis; Territory Studio created graphics that bridged the two worlds — seen mainly on monitors and in HUDs, or heads-up displays (transparently shown information that doesn’t require viewers to look away from their reference point on the screen).

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“Eighty minutes of the [140-minute] film — the length of an animated feature — takes place in the Oasis,” explains ILM visual effects supervisor Grady Cofer. “It...
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