It’s not easy for a movie-star to age – especially when you’re a stop motion animated skeleton monster
I have to admit something. When I started writing about visual effects, I once ignorantly thought that I was one of the only people in the world really, truly obsessed with the industry. I was so wrong. I have, of course, been excited to meet – online and in-person – lots of other people who are just as fanatical.
What’s amazing about Rebooted, which was funded by Screen Australia and YouTube, is that Shanks and his team actually did use several old-school techniques to bring those characters to life, including stop-motion, animatronics, man-in-suit effects, and motion control, as well as motion capture, 3D and 2D compositing.
As a self-confessed VFX aficionado, I was just buzzing when I found out this project existed, and I hope you will be, too. Watch the whole film below, and then read my interview with Shanks about how Rebooted was made, with some extra special insights on what effects-related Easter eggs to look out for.
Michael Shanks: I’ve always been obsessed with the ‘How did they do that?!’ of movie-making, and since I started making films I’ve always had a real VFX focus. I spent a lot of time as a kid watching behind-the-scenes stuff (the bonus features on the LOTR extended editions are the best things ever).
b&a: Given that it does hark back to a golden age of effects, what were some of the early discussions you had about how ‘Phil’ and the other characters would be brought to life using old and new techniques?
Michael Shanks: The whole premise behind this project is to celebrate the incredible magic of all sorts of creature creation, and as such I wanted to do it as authentically as possible – but due to financial constraints I was convinced we would have to compromise a lot more than we did. As we largely do all our post in-house (we did all VFX work except the liquid metal man and 2D animation) we can rely on VFX to solve all sorts of ‘we don’t have to pay ourselves’ budget fixes.
B&A: IN PARTICULAR, HOW WAS PHIL ANIMATED? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE APPROACH TO STOP-MOTION USED AND YOUR METHODS FOR COMPOSITING HIM INTO LIVE ACTION SCENES?
Michael Shanks: We actually did a couple of tests as to how we might be able to make a CG Phil that was rendered to look like stop-motion animation (inspired by Animal Logic’s incredible work on the Lego movies) but ultimately we were sent the heavenly gift of Samuel Lewis, our puppet-builder and animator, and Gerald Thompson, our stop-motion cinematographer.