The rocket science behind Dune’s mix of virtual and real

Four simultaneous views from different angles of the projection light hitting Timothee Chalamet
Four simultaneous views from different angles of the projection light hitting Timothee Chalamet at Origo Film Studios in Budapest, Hungary, June 2019. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures and WylieCo/HANDOUT

March 10, 2022

By Barbara Lewis and Tara Oakes

LONDON (Reuters) – You don’t have to be a tech wizard to make it in Hollywood, but it’s helping – especially since the pandemic.

Oscar-nominated blockbuster Dune is a prime example of the capabilities that can open the door to the film industry for a wider audience when streaming has heightened content appetites and production has become highly technical.

The film is a collaboration between French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve and British-born visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert, who previously worked together on the 2017 film Blade Runner, which won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Lambert, who has around 25 years of experience in the field of visual effects, learned on the job.

He had a degree in aeronautical engineering, also known as rocket science, but until he became a courier, making regular deliveries to Pinewood Studios, he told Reuters he “never in a million years” thought he could work in film.

One thing led to another, and he realized that the “very, very creative and very technical” realm of visual effects was his calling.

“I live, breathe, dream what I do,” he said.

Universities and industry, which often work together, are increasingly providing training and say streaming and the backlog caused by lockdown have led to a surge in demand for tech talent.

This need “allows young people from a wider range of grades to get their foot in the door,” said Assistant Arts Professor Sang-Jin Bae of New York University, where the Tisch School of the Arts teaches virtual production and animation and visual effects.

Maxon, headquartered in Germany, is one of the companies providing the software. It says it seeks to mentor artists and create diverse role models in its tutorials to increase inclusion in a predominantly white, male film production sector and address the talent crisis.

“The more people come, the more artists there are,” said Paul Babb, Maxon’s chief marketing officer.

Lambert used Maxon’s technology for a scene in Dune where the protagonist hides in a hologram bush.

The secret to making it believable is natural light, which means you “always have to reference something real,” Lambert said. In this case it was the actor.

The obvious approach would have been to create a computer generated version of Dune’s protagonist, played by Timothee Chalamet. Instead, Lambert projected “a series of slices” of a computer-generated hologram bush onto him.

“You get a nice, subsurface look on the skin that’s really hard to create in computer graphics,” Lambert said.

The reward for Lambert and his team could be an Oscar later this month.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

https://www.oann.com/the-rocket-science-behind-dunes-blend-of-the-virtual-and-the-real/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-rocket-science-behind-dunes-blend-of-the-virtual-and-the-real The rocket science behind Dune’s mix of virtual and real

Dais Johnston

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