Star Trek: Into Darkness: VFX makes it so

fxguide by Ian Failes

Visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett describes his overall approach to the effects in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek: Into Darkness as “we want to make people feel like they’re really there.” It’s an approach Guyett, who also supervised Abrams’ first Star Trek, had adopted straight from the director. “He likes things to feel kind of tactile and believable in a fundamental way. If you look at the kind of choices we have made, we tended to err on what I would call the practical side of things. It’s not a concept art version of San Francisco or a city, it’s a working version.”

fxguide visited Industrial Light & Magic, the film’s lead vendor, to interview Guyett and other members of the Trek effects crew. We spoke also to Pixomondo and Atomic Fiction about their contributions to this newest Bad Robot production. Here’s a look at just some of the main sequences the visual effects teams worked on.

***Note: this article contains plot spoilers***

Planet Nibiru

The film opens as the crew of the USS Enterprise are attempting to save the indigenous population of Nibiru from a volcanic eruption – all the while trying not to reveal themselves and therefore break the Prime Directive. But the Enterprise is ultimately exposed to the Nibirians (in a dramatic ocean resurfacing) when Kirk decides to save Spock’s life amid a lava-spewing eruption.

On the planet surface, Kirk and Bones narrowly escape spear-wielding members of the indigenous population by racing through a distinctive red forest, running into a native creature and then leaping over a cliff edge into the water. Early on a shoot in the jungles of Hawaii was mooted with a post process to convert green to red. “In a funny way,” admits Roger Guyett, “I wanted to make it work. I was kind of intrigued by it. The problem is of course, the jungle has many, many shades of green and it’s being lit by natural light which is not like a green highlight particularly, and it’s exterior, it’s very hot. We tried – we did a whole bunch of tests and thought there would be some mileage in there. What could work about this? Well, I felt, if you did that it would feel weird. Maybe that’s OK, because you’re in a Star Trek world. The thing is, it didn’t just look weird, it also looked very kind of false. Kind of an electronic thing and not natural.” read more...

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