Rez-Illusion Visual Effects has completed 136 visual effects shots for Fox Searchlight The Hills Have Eyes, according to the studio Visual Effects Supervisor and Founder, Jamison Goei.
Directed by Alexandre Aja, the film is a remake of Wes Craven 1977 cult classic and tells the terrifying story of the Carter family which strays unwittingly into a government atomic testing zone while traveling and becomes the prey of cannibalistic mutant human monsters.
The two-month shoot in Ouarzazate, Morocco was supervised by Goei, with the computer work done in the Los Angeles studio. “Our goal was to create seamless, transparent effects that helped the director tell a truly frightening story with great visuals that enhance the film,” said Goei. “The audience will not even be aware that they are watching visual effects sequences. Everything will appear as if scenes were shot without the aid of CG.”
The film begins with a scene leading into the main titles where three scientists are caught in a desert sandstorm while conducting research in full radiation suits. The entire desert scene was scanned into the computer where 90 percent of the sandstorm was digitally created by the Rez-Illusion team. The billowing sand was composited using multiple layers of white talcum powder driven by a fan and filmed against a black background to create dust particles. The layering of sand elements in the composites entailed substantial rotoscoping to create the illusion of depth within the scene. Color correction was key in maintaining continuity from shot to shot throughout the sequence.
For several scenes focused on the disturbingly deformed face of a mutant girl named Ruby, the team developed a distortion technique to control the look and feel of the deformation. Three black dots were placed on the actor face and then motion tracked. Using these tracking points allowed artists to maintain a rigid underlying bone-structure, thereby avoiding the rubbery look that warping can cause if not done skillfully, according to Goei.
Rez-Illusion also performed various wire removals, blood and fire enhancements, set extensions, reflection removals and created several muzzle flashes and 3D objects.
Other film credits for Rez-Illusion include: Albert Brooks’s Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (Sony Pictures Entertainment), Wes Craven’s Cursed (Dimension Films), Santa Slay (Media 8), Uncle P (Beacon Family Films) and Project Greenlight’s Feast (Dimension Films).
Goei’s work in visual effects has been recognized by the DVD Exclusive academy with awards in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and two nominations in 2003. He recently received a 2005 nomination for Dracula III: Legacy. “I’ve been closely associated with Wes Craven projects for many years, including all of his Dracula films while at Neo Art & Logic and more recently on Cursed at Rez-Illusion,” said Goei. “It’s always a great opportunity and challenge to create visual effects that contribute to a talented filmmaker’s vision and artistic expression.”