Image Engine VFX reveals the thought process fueling The Thing, District 9, and X-Files.
You've likely seen Image Engine's skill even if you've never heard of the company. The Vancouver-based VFX house has quietly been doing yeoman's effect work behind some of the most visually stunning films of the last decade, creating everything from the raptors of Jurassic World to the Graphorns of Fantastic Beasts to the, well, human/mutants in Logan (where VFX lead Chas Jarrett basically told the team, "There isn’t an uncanny valley—it looks like Hugh or it doesn’t." Walsh believes the film is an interesting example of VFX possibly getting past the "dead eyes" of the uncanny valley).
At South by Southwest, however, Executive Producer Shawn Walsh had one particular area of focus to share: aliens. Image Engine has plenty of experience here, too (including using items from a European museum to create the title characters in Independence Day: Resurgence), and three recent projects from the company's long resume stand out to Walsh as exemplifying modern extraterrestrial design.
The X-Files (2016)
Walsh said Image Engine does things today that weren't possible 10 years ago—but sometimes the situation dictates a quieter approach. Fox's recent X-Files reboot stands as a perfect example. While creating a crashing spaceship for the series required modern techniques, the series had an existing aesthetic for aliens that Image Engine needed to remain true to.
The Thing (2011)
Image Engine was hired as the lead vendor on the recent prequel to the classic 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name. That meant the sole responsibility for bringing the film's iconic creature into the 21st century fell on Walsh and company. "We didn't just want to make the audience feel gross, though that was part of the plan," he said. "We wanted a deeper emotion."
District 9 (2009)
Image Engine has worked on many, many films, but District 9 remains a favorite for Walsh given how advanced this alien design was for the time (it earned the team an Academy Award nomination). District 9's aliens also stand out for Walsh, because the script treated them differently than the average space monster.
Full article published here: https://arstechnica.com/the-multiverse/2017/03/the-design-philosophies-behind-some-of-our-favorite-movie-aliens/