Practical effects, including props, figures, masks, makeup, and more, are a much-loved mainstay in a special effects (FX) industry increasingly going digital. No amount of CGI can replace the visceral connection actors have, and audiences respond to, with practical effects. Major industry events as well, such as conventions, often benefit from showcase pieces that show off the design prowess of FX teams.
Advanced technologies including 3D printing are taking their place among and bridging the gap between digital and traditional approaches to FX. We see this with increasing frequency, as 3D printing can bring digital designs to life as a physical manifestation of movie magic.
In April, Monsterpalooza took Pasadena by storm. Lovers of monsters and movie magic come together each spring to celebrate the art of special effects. The team from Oculus Medium were excited to attend the event to share in that love — and showcase a new generation of monster making. Technology from the team is coming into play for designers and artists throughout their workflow, from concepting to prototyping to modeling, and in creating physical art installations for display.
With on-site live virtual reality sculpting and a series of 3D printed monsters, Oculus Medium brought attendees into the future of visual effects (VFX).
As a showcase piece, Oculus Medium had as a highlight among its creatures a new monster created through collaboration — and technology.
Concept art from Carlos Huante; modeling by Oculus Medium’s Gio Nakpil; 3D printing, molding, and casting by Christopher Dombos of Arcane Visionaries; and detailed painting by Tim Gore featured on this one-of-a-kind monster.
Standing almost two feet tall, the finished monster is the culmination of months of creative artistry and represents the approach creative teams take to develop looks for cinematic monsters. It also serves to highlight what Oculus Medium calls the seamless integration of virtual reality into an established professional pipeline.
The collaborative team, made up of “VFX legends,” put Oculus Medium to work and found the VR sculpting capabilities to be invaluable in the process.
This workflow is being shared in the team’s new behind-the-scenes documentary, Making the Monster, released today.
“I pitched that, for the next Monsterpalooza, we should do a creature based on Carlos’s design,” Nakpil says in the documentary. “I really wanted to pull off the very signature Carlos forms that you see in his work, which are essentially some of the toughest to do in sculpture.
“And I found that Medium is actually the perfect medium for achieving his style of design in CG. Where my hands are to where the surface is, is very immediate. You know, the mark that I do is on the surface, just like clay. In the end, we’ll have this piece that, you know, stems from Carlos’s design, my model, Chris [Dombos]’s engineering to print, and Tim [Gore]’s masterful paint.”
While monsters make magic on the silver screen, getting them there comes down to human efforts. Integrating virtual reality into 3D design and developing 3D printed models allows for a flexible, digital workflow for VFX teams.
“I’ve seen 3D prints from Medium. There’s something else going on. It’s something new and I loved it,” Huarte explains. He continues, “I’ve known Gio for many years—one of the few modelers on Earth that I trust.”
That trust was, it seems, well placed as the project came together for presentation at Monsterpalooza, where the reception was overwhelmingly positive. At the booth, Nakpil noted that seeing the collaboration come together into one piece was “just beautiful.”
“It makes all the time and effort spent on it, just, you know, worthwhile—being here and seeing the people who are fans of monsters and anything creature-related appreciate it,” he said.
VR design is coming to the fore for more applications, as this elaborate monster showcases. From movie VFX to 3D printed birthday pups to social media avatars, Oculus Medium is allowing for a broader reach in advanced design capabilities. In addition to design, the use of VR design with 3D printing affords savvy adopters significant business opportunity.
Check out Making the Monster to see more of the process:
For more fun with monsters, Son of Monsterpalooza is coming to Burbank in mid-September.[All images provided by Oculus Medium]