Blog Archive

This page contains my recent news, musings and interesting stuff I’ve seen loosely based around my industry.


Chappie Trailer and Poster

I’ve been working on Chappie at Image Engine since February. It is Neill Blomkamp’s third feature film and his third time working with Image Engine.

This week saw the marketing for Chappie ramp up. Until now there had only been a few articles and some vague artwork at Comic-Con, but Monday saw the release of the first poster:


and on Tuesday they published the teaser trailer:

I have a few shots in the trailer; the sequence when Chappie is painting, and the close up of Chappie looking out of the van at 1:17 (which is also the thumbnail for the YouTube video)


MOX – The Open Source Movie Format Project

I was browsing my Twitter feed today when I saw these tweets in quick succession:

I’d never heard of MOX before but it was obviously something that Stu and Jeff were excited about so I clicked through to the Indiegogo page.

MOX is a project by Brendan Bolles, a visual effects artist and software developer. He wants to write an open source movie format that would work like QuickTime or AVI, but that is based on existing open source image and audio file formats like OpenEXR, instead of proprietary codecs like Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD. The IndieGogo page describes the project much better than I could, and in much more detail so click through, and watch this Video:

I realised that I have already used After Effect plug-ins developed by Brendan so I know he’s got the skills to pull it off.

Only recently I was struggling with QuickTime gamma issues, something that I didn’t think would be an issue in 2014. And I have also had to have long discussions about which codec we should base whole editing projects around, even when we were all using Premier Pro, just on different operating systems. I love the idea that one guy can fix all this for everyone. So I donated $20 to the project.

I hope you will consider donating too.


Creating A Cheap Bullet Time For Ice Bucket Challenge

So, it took a couple of weeks, but I was finally nominated to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I was going to skip the ice bucket and just make a donation, but then I read this article on Vice about the challenge and the disease. I realised that I didn’t know anything about ALS until this campaign, and it sound horrific, so I thought I’d do my part spreading the word further.

I decided that I should use the video is incentive to try and experiment with some camera work. I had seen a few cool slow-mo versions of the challenge already so I thought I should try and take it further and attempt a bullet time effect.

Initially I thought about trying the traditional bullet time technique, getting 10 GoPros, mounting them in an arc and stitching the multiple angles together afterwards. I sent an e-mail around the office to see if I could borrow enough cameras, but it was the long weekend and people wanted to use their GoPros.

One of the replies to the e-mail pointed me to this page that featured this clip:

I had seen this clip before but had completely forgotten about it.

I didn’t have a ceiling fan mount, and I didn’t fancy setting up something electrical and then tipping water all over it, so I decided to create a manual version.

I took my girlfriend’s hula hoop and tied two pieces of rope across at 90 degrees to each other so it could hang flat. We hung the hoop above my head on an exercise frame that my friend has in his back garden and rotated the ring about 15 times so the ropes twisted. When we let go of the hoop the twists in the rope cause it to spin.

When I attached the GoPro it obviously unbalanced the setup and prevented it from spinning smoothly, so we needed to mount a second GoPro directly opposite the first one. You can see the other GoPro in the video. We were going to run that one too, to give us an alternative angle, but the battery was flat so it is there purely as counterbalance.

I set the GoPro to 120fps at 720p and turned on ProTune. When I got home I ran the shot through the GoPro software and converted it to Cineform so I could grade the footage slightly. Kept the Cineform file at 120fps but re-interpreted the footage to 30fps in Premier to slow it down.

I think the effect worked pretty well. Next time I will try setting the GoPro to 240fps and see if the drop in resolution ok. It would have also been better if the hoop was spinning faster.

I will also make sure that I frame up the other camera properly next time πŸ™‚

If you want to donate to ALS research try this link:


VFX 101 from Method Studios

When I logged onto Facebook this morning I saw that several of my friends had posted this little animation from Method Studios, gently mocking how the VFX process can get out of hand.

Method Studios – VFX 101 from METHODology on Vimeo.


Lone Survivor Compositing Reel

Here is a collection of some of the shots I did while working on Lone Survivor at Image Engine.

It was one of the simpler shows I’ve worked on for a while. Lots of cliched compositing tasks like adding muzzle flashes, screen replacements and rig removal. You can read a more detailed account of the work we did on the show here.

Lone Survivor Compositing Reel from Conrad Olson on Vimeo.


Vancouver VFX Job Site –

I’ve just discovered, a site listing VFX jobs in Vancouver.

I saw the link after it was posted by the Vancouver branch of the VES on their Facebook page. The site says that it is the official jobs board for the Vancouver VES and is sponsored and maintained by the Lost Boys VFX school. At the moment it looks like just the smaller companies in town are posting there but it would be interesting to see if it becomes the one-stop site for all job opportunities in town.

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Moments That Changed The Movies – Jurrasic Park

Today I watched this short documentary about how Jurassic Park became the landmark moment in the history of CGI:

It reminded me of this series of videos looking back at how Stan Winston Studios built the practical t-rex:

Although Jurassic Park broke ground with it’s use of CGI it is important to remember that it had a lot more particle effects and it’s success was down to how well the two techniques worked together.

There are a lot of other interesting discussions and facts about the VFX and special FX in the FXGuide podcast, The VFX Show #87: Jurassic Park.

I watch Jurassic Park again recently and it is amazing how well the whole movie still holds up after 20 years.


Lone Survivor Breakdown Reel

Image Engine have made this cool breakdown reel showing off the work we did last year for Lone Survivor.

The shot of the airbase at 23 seconds is one of the bigger shots I did on the project.



Making of Elysium

I know Elysium has been out for a while now but this week Image Engine posted a breakdown reel showing some of the work that they did for the movie. Unfortunately it didn’t include any of my shots, but it does show what we started with and what we did for most of the work.

That breakdown is featured here on a site called WikiFX, which I hadn’t heard of before. They lead me to this other cool featurette from Wired and presented by Mike Seymour. A few of my shots are featured in this one.

You can see my personal Elysium reel here.


Edge Of Tomorrow Trailer

They have just released a new trailer for Edge Of Tomorrow. I spent 3 months working on this at Sony Imageworks in Vancouver. This trailer is full of our work. There are a couple of quick exploding aircraft interior shots that I worked.

I think the stuff we did looks great and I’m genuinely excited to see the movie. I think this could be the best movie I’ve worked on for a while.