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Hulk FX Visit!

10.21.2008

Today, October 21st, THE INCREDIBLE HULK smashes its way into your homes with a Special Edition 3-Disc DVD or Blu-ray. For all of you not interested in the extra bells and whistles of the 3-disc edition, the single DVD includes Deleted Scenes and a Commentary, so it’s not so bad either. If you missed Louis Leterrier’s take on it in the theatres for whatever reason, I highly recommend bringing the big green guy home. It was a pretty terrific take on the Marvel Comic hero that found his way onto the big screen only five years after Ang Lee’s HULK. When the powers that be decided to leave ILM and look for someone else to create the visual effects, there were a few folks surprised by the change. But Rhythm and Hues Studios rose to the challenge, and were able to create a beast with more personality and more human qualities than the earlier green machine. And for a few journalists, we had the pleasure of stopping by their studio to get a look at... THE MAKING OF THE MONSTER!

The panel which included Betsy Paterson and Kurt Williams (the Visual Effects Supervisors), among others, spoke about the eagerness of the filmmakers to get it right. Edward Norton was ready and willing to be as big a part of it as he could, even at the beginning stages in the animation process. He felt that the more he was involved, the more it was his performance and not something fabricated. It was their intention to represent him with the intensity he brings to the role. He was heavily involved all the way up to the motion capture process. Although Mr. Norton was certainly not a part of every single moment, the folks at R and H felt that he contributed highly to the successful recreation of Bruce Banner’s alter-ego.

As they explored this familiar territory, they felt that a return to what made the T.V. series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno work, might be a better way to approach the material. While doing this, it was still very important that the action must be even better and the visual effects must also be superior to what had been done before. They decided to work with the skin color and avoid the “gamma green” by bringing the Hulk’s character to the “real world”. Making this Hulk, a natural product of the elements surrounding him. All of this was painstakingly worked through, but made much easier by the wonderful technology they had, which we were allowed to see during a tour of the studio.

The making of the film was a very detailed creation for those involved in the Hulk’s animation while working with director Louis Leterrier and of course Marvel. Both the Special Edition DVD (3-disc edition) and the Blu-ray release of the film will feature two hours of bonus footage with a never-before-seen alternate opening. It will also include all-new interactive features including My Chat. I’m not sure what exactly what this will entail, but to quote the film’s press release, it is “an innovative application that allows viewers to communicate with friends and family while watching the film for a fully immersive, exclusive experience.” Although I’m not sure about this one because certain members of my family talk all the way through movies, so the idea of watching a film with them in the virtual world is terrifying.

After a visit to Rhythm and Hues, we stepped over to the other side of the street at Giant Studios. If you’ve no idea what they do, you certainly know their work. They are the ones who helped bring Gollum and King Kong to life through motion capture. If you’ve never seen any of the special features on THE LORD OF THE RINGS DVDs, you are missing out on watching these actors stepping into the skin tight suits that will capture every movement they make. One of my fellow journalists even had the chance to step into the suit and give the Hulk a chance to do a pirouette. I will say that anyone who considers themselves a cinephile will know exactly what this process looks like. After all, if you’ve seen LORD OF THE RINGS, POLAR EXPRESS, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, HAPPY FEET or IRON MAN, you may have witnessed the fun of watching an actor strapped in and bringing their very unique human take to a computerized character. It is a fascinating process, and frankly, it is sort of refreshing to see actors being a part of this creation. Whether or not you see them on-screen, you see their physicality and even their own “performance“.


Behind-The-Scenes Video

One question brought up while on this visit was the prospect of creating a character fully from a CG standpoint. This brought to the table whether it would be possible in the future and would it be something that R and H would want to do, create a leading character that was purely CG. They expressed that the main issue would be time… it would take a lot of it. The tools to do this are in place, but time is not something studios have when it comes to releasing the latest blockbuster. But for me, an actor brings to the role all the little quirks that make them human. To create or recreate a human being, those little quirks or what have you, will disappear and will bring us farther and farther away from the very personal relationship we have to film. While it is hard to say that it will never happen, at least for now, actors seem to still have a place in the age of technology. And in the case of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the ability to bring that on-screen with the power of a mythical hero is a wondrous thing.

Which do you prefer? Ang Lee’s Hulk or the latest incarnation? Or are you still waiting for the perfect HULK film? Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com

Source: JoBlo.com

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