With the biggest budget of any Star Trek film ever, we know that JJ Abrams is going to have a lot of spectacular effects for his Star Trek. However, even though Abrams has brought on CGI effects powerhouse ILM, he has also brought on board veterans of the world of practical effects as well. In a new article in the UK Guardian one of those old-school effects artists talks about keeping it real.
The article in the UK Guardian titled “The return of the real fake,” notes how some of the younger directors in Hollywood are approaching their effects. From the article:
One telling factor in the attitudes of [Christopher] Nolan [Batman Begins] and JJ Abrams could be their ages: Nolan is 37, Abrams 41. “They grew up watching films of the 80s or the ‘golden age’ of creature effects like Terminator, Aliens or The Thing, and miss the tactile reality they had,” suggests Oscar-nominated effects artist Alec Gillis. “These directors want audiences to have a lifelike experience, not a video-game sensory assault. They want stuntmen daring to risk their lives, full-scale buildings being blown up, totally convincing miniatures rocketing through the sky. CG often gives a physics-defying, over-nuanced, pristine-ness that defies our primal knowledge of reality.
The article also quotes Rob Burman, who heads up the mold shop creating puppets and make-up effects for the Star Trek film. Again from the article:
For Star Trek, Abrams hired Rob Burman, whose family has been in the effects business since his grandfather helped create Wolfman in 1931. “CGI had become more than just a tool over the past few years,” Burman says, “but now everyone is getting used to the toy and beginning to see the limitations of it. It takes you out of the grounding of the film. If you watch the Spider-Man movies, it’s great swinging through the city from his point of view, but you don’t have the thrill of knowing it’s a real guy doing these things. It can look utterly believable, but if what you’re watching is beyond possibility, it’s hard to suspend your disbelief. You want people to go to the movie and get lost in it. If you start thinking, ‘Oh, that was fake,’ then you’re automatically back in a seat in a theatre.”
Burman also how notes this approach is better for the actors and editors, saying
Having something practical there helps everyone involved. Actors don’t have to focus on a green tennis ball on a stick and pretend it’s this big monster or character. It even helps the editing and it helps the framing of the shot to have a literal 3D object in front of the camera. Everything is much simpler.
Aliens on the Enterprise
And we know that some of this make-up work will be creating Aliens who will be working with the crew on the Enterprise. Here is a clip of Anton Yelchin talking to MTV about working with Aliens
Abrams on making Trek Real
Star Trek director JJ Abrams recently stated “Effects for Star Trek have never, ever been done like this.” But all indications are that he went out of his way to take a different approach than the Star Wars prequels and to minimize the use of greenscreen. In his live chat with fans at TrekMovie.com Abrams talked about the mix of real and CGI.
I was lucky enough to work with ILM on Mission: Impossible III. Roger Guyette and Sherri Hanson are geniuses who are also a true joy to work with. ILM has always been the best — but in recent years they have — remarkably — gotten even better, making the virtual photo-real.
Having said that, my goal is to make Trek REAL — that is to say, not have it be camp — not have it be phony — not have it look like a scrap of green screen was used anywhere. Of course, this is Star Trek. We’re using every trick in the book. But WHEREVER WE CAN, we are shooting on sets — either built on sound stages or expanding upon found locations. This is important. What this means is that the movie won’t have that “actors performing in a blue or green void then placed in front of a spaceship set” feeling that makes me insane.
Not Burmans’ First Trek
JJ Abrams Star Trek is not Rob Burman’s first trip to the final frontier. He applied makeup effects for Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, working with his brother, Barney Burman. In addition, Burman and his wife and business partner, Jennifer E. McManus, worked on Star Trek: Insurrection. Rob is again working with his brother on the new Trek film, with his brother’s company Proteus FX. The Burman’s come from a long line of Hollywood Make-up artists dating back decades. Proteus also worked with J.J. Abrams on Alias and his first feature, Mission: Impossible: III. Proteus has extensive experience in Holllywood, including a number of recent sci-fi features such as Men in Black II, Planet of the Apes, and The Matrix: Reloaded. More info on the pair at Memory Alpha: Rob Burman, Barney Burman.