The Oscar nominations are underway, and for the 15th year in a row, NVIDIA technologies have been behind the scenes of every film nominated for Best Visual Effects.
Among the five contenders for the 95th annual Academy Awards, which take place on Sunday, March 12, at VFX:
- All is quiet on the Western Front
- Avatar: The Way of Water
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Top Gun: Maverick
For over a decade, filmmakers and VFX studios around the world have used NVIDIA technologies to create the most visually rich films ever made. Today, creators and artists transform VFX using advanced graphics capabilities like real-time ray tracing, simulation, artificial intelligence, and virtual production—all thanks to NVIDIA RTX technologies.
Immerse yourself in natural wonders with advanced graphics
Award-winning studio Wētā FX created stunning visual effects for director James Cameron’s highly anticipated sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water. The film is one of Vētā’s biggest VFX projects to date. The team created 3,240 shots—98% of the film’s total shots—more than two-thirds of which are water.
In computer graphics (CG), making water look natural and realistic—from the way it runs off a character’s skin to the way it drips from clothing—is one of the biggest challenges for visual effects artists. But for this film, Wētā developed and implemented a new set of water tools that expanded their capabilities in simulation, rendering, and more.
The team began by pre-producing and recording the performance using a GPU-based real-time ocean spectrum warper that served as a consistent physical starting point for the water in the set. After that, Wētā created a new suite of programs to solve the water—many of them in Loki, the studio’s proprietary multiphysics simulation system. Loki allows combining multiple solvers in any configuration. For example, hair, cloth, air, and water can all be simulated together.
Other key innovations from Wētā focus on capturing both dry and wet features, new deep learning models to process stereo camera images and create depth maps for compositing, and neural networks to aid in facial and muscle animation.
Creating thrilling car chases through Brutal Gotham
Wētā FX also handled the cinematic visual effects for batman The team, led by VFX supervisor Anders Langlands, worked on a thrilling highway chase between Batman and the infamous villain The Penguin. As they race through Gotham City in the pouring rain, Penguin causes a series of car crashes and explosions.
To create a sense of danger and inspiration, the team combined the car chase scene with greatly enhanced live action and fully CGI. Provision of proper lighting; simulation of realistic collision of raindrops with several surfaces, hydroplaning and splashing of wheels; and the lighting of the rain through headlights and streetlights all added to the complexity of these shots. Wētā also worked on background environments for scenes in Batcave and Gotham City Hall.
Elevating CGI to the sky
Practical effects and cinematography are behind Top Gun: Maverick instantly became the highlight of this jaw-dropping Hollywood blockbuster. But to add more layers of realism to these outstanding aerial shots, VFX Supervisor Ryan Tadhope and the team at Studio method in partnership with the camera department, air coordinators and the United States Navy to capture extensive footage of real air-to-air and surface-to-air jets. They filmed over 800 hours of aerial stunts, mounts and plates to provide their team with a practical VFX base to work on.
The Top Gun: Maverick The team implemented various VFX techniques, creating an astonishing 2,400 VFX shots for the film. Visual effects included the creation and addition of CG aircraft in scenes, as well as the addition of rockets, smoke and explosions in various action sequences. The invisible nature of visual effects in Top Gun: Maverick making it a prime contender for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
A new track for underwater worlds
in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Wētā FX also demonstrated its leadership in creating photorealistic underwater footage. Chris White, the film’s visual effects supervisor, was tasked with creating the Mesoamerican-inspired underwater kingdom of Talocan.
To achieve a realistic look for the characters in this underwater world, Wētā used a combination of live action scenes shot in water tanks and dry-to-wet shots, which helped capture realistic underwater movements of the characters, clothing and hair.
Wētā also depicted how different skin tones would react to light with the added complexity of a dark underwater environment. Wētā FX has once again raised the bar for realistic water simulation Blank Panther: Wakanda Forever.
All action on the VFX front
Cinematic magic is created when the visual effects are so flawless that the audience remains completely immersed in the story without realizing that what they are seeing is an effect. Here’s how VFX Supervisor Markus Frank and the production company Cine Chromatix received a nomination for best visual effects All is quiet on the Western Front.
In order to authentically tell the story of two young soldiers during the First World War, Cine Chromatix and the film’s visual effects team focused on the small details needed to create VFX that are hidden in plain sight.
The result is stunning. Even after watching Cine Chromatix VFX Breakout Reel for the film, the audience can scramble back and forth to decipher fact from fiction.
See how Oscar-nominated VFX are made at GTC
NVIDIA congratulates all of this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Visual Effects.
Learn more about visual effects, AI, virtual production and animation at NVIDIA GTC, a global technology conference that will be held online March 20-23. Sign up for free and hear from industry luminaries who create stunning visual effects in film and television. Check all Media and entertainment at GTC.
Featured image provided Studios of the 20th century.