Annihilation’s VFX prove the Beauty of Glitches

Alex Garland’s Annihilation just eked into my Top 10 for 2018, not least because of its idiosyncratic look. Reading the article about the film in Cinefex 159, I especially liked one section, in which VFX Supervisor Andrew Whitehurst talks about the serendipitous nature of the crystal trees that Lena (Natalie Portman) encounters on her way to the lighthouse:

“Originally, the objects on the beach were human-like sculptures based on reference the art department found of underwater divers with bubbles trailing behind them. The thought was to invert that image, creating blobby human forms of sand and salt crystals busting from the beach. The art department made a beautiful maquette, build gray bucks and placed them on the beach. We created digital versions (…) and started placing them into shots. (…) We had lidar data of Natalie walking through an evergreen forest, and raw data of the trees had created some visual artifacts. Wherever the lidar lost resolution in smaller leaves it took on a sculptural quality. Alex agreed the artifacts had a beauty to them, It also reminded us of a beautiful piece of reference photography from preproduction, where we had been photographing the characters entering the forest and the trees had contained thousands of spiders weaving webs. They almost felt like crystal trees. And so, instead of the beach shapes being made out of sand whe ended up making them out of crystal.”

Read the whole article in Cinefex 159

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