Creepy crawlies and out of this world creations took center stage at the “Men In Black 3 Movie Touch” conference on Monday at 10 a.m.
Makeup Effects artist Rick Baker, Creative Head and Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Ken Ralston, Visual Effects Supervisor Jay Redd, Animation Supervisor Spencer Cook excitedly took the press through a panel discussion of many elements that created the two worlds if “MIB 3.” Talking about the creation of “Bad ass,” as Baker describes, Boris excited all the guest as different concepts were shared. Showing on a big screen the CGI and makeup used to make Boris come to life. From attention to detail to concepts that were cut each panelist gave their expert opinion on the process of creation. Being able to create both digital and real object allows the team to be able to carry the object on set and take shots of it for lighting. Doing so helps them figure out how it going to move, how it’s going to be shaded, and makes it feel more lifelike.
“As hard as this movie was, cause it was hard, we had a good time on it,” says Ralston. “There is a logic you have to follow on these silly movies,” says Ralston.
The creation of the giant alien fish which fights with Agent J played by Will Smith continued as the creation if the Men in Black 3 universe kept moving forward. “There were many times when Ken and I would go into meetings and I thought Ken and I were the voice of reality,” says Baker. Having to make logical decisions toward a world that they have to keep from being too outrageous meant having to pitch idea after idea, changing the script, and cooperating with many different people. “Director Barry said you guys should be writing this movie,” says Baker.
Although this universe they were creating posed some obstacles they enjoyed the challenge they were presented with. The creation of aliens and the originality of the modern aliens was made clear to Baker who had pitched having homage to the aliens of classic movies. With time traveling being the key concept in this third movie the homage could help give the feel of time travel.
“Aliens in 2012 should have the look of Men in Black aliens. In 1969 they should be retro aliens,” says Baker.
After the panel discussion I was able to sit with the panelist and ask some questions. Talking about Director Barry Sonnenfeld they were able to reveal that he is in a few shots throughout the movie. There are references to “Dr. Strangelove” due to Sonnenfeld liking it so much. Continuing on to describing Will Smith as being a very hands on actor and how interactive he is. They describe a meeting they had in a cramped office where Smith acted out jumping off a building and the movements he could do while on the drop down. For them the movie holds up. No matter how many times they have seen it they keep laughing. Each time they watch it they notice something new. They have no idea how Sonnenfeld got such a great product from the chaotic experience they had gone through.
“I’ve been doing my designs for models on computers for about 20 years now,” Baker says. Baker embraces technology making use of it to fix small details. “There’s magic that happens when you have an actor in makeup,” says Baker.
There are things that CGI cannot do and actors sometimes give much better performances when in makeup. Actors are able to do stuff that they wouldn’t with motion capture dots on their face. Baker tried to sell his idea for Boris by showing up in costume.
“They were shooting Will to test out the 3D. I think Barry wants to see you before anyone else and then Walter Parks wanted to see me before anyone else. I said ‘fuck this’ because I really saw Boris as a real bad ass. He wasn’t quite as badass as I wanted. I had like a Jack Daniels bottle that was full of ice tea an like a fake cigarette. I kind of kicked the door in and walked in. Barry had his cowboy hat on and I go ‘What he fuck is going on in here?,’ and I go ‘What the hell are you dressed up as?,’ and doing all this belligerent shit. Again, stuff I could not do as my normal self. But, it almost worked against me I kind of scared him a little bit too much, Barry was really afraid. Barry was hiding behind Will,” says Baker.
Advancements in CGI has taken away from much of Baker’s job. It’s made the designing part easier as there’s no need re do entire drawings it painting every single time. Doing cosmetic touch-ups make the aesthetics of each shot more detailed. As for creating brand new characters as opposed to well known characters Baker. It is easier in a way to base off of source material but harder in the way that people have expectations.
“One of the things I love about the film industry is one of the things I hate about the film industry, it’s such a collaborative media. When the collaboration works well it’s great but a lot of times it doesn’t and there is so many people in the mix that can affect your work. I always want my work to be the best it can possibly be and if there’s a reason that someone else did something to make it not be the best, I don’t like that,” says Baker.
ImageWorks celebrates it’s 20th anniversary as a leader in visual effects and character animation. Delivering innovative technologies, dynamic new look development, lighting and virtual camera systems intuitively translate the world of live action into the digital realm.
(Full “Men in Black 3″ Blu-ray/DVD review and “Men In Black 3 Movie Touch app” coming soon)