MASTERSFX Supervises and Creates Lycans and Vampires For “Underworld Awakening”
January 26, 2012 by Screenmag
Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary year, full-service character effects company MASTERSFX has supervised and created Lycan, vampire, and Creature FX that are prominently featured in “Underworld Awakening,” from Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment, in association with Sketch Films. “Underworld Awakening” opened Jan 20, 2012. This project marks the first time that Lakeshore Entertainment employed a new Creature FX team for the “Underworld” series, while concurrently representing the first 3D project to which MASTERSFX has made a significant contribution. Todd Masters, Founder, MASTERSFX made the announcement.
Todd Masters and his team at MASTERSFX produced several full scale animatronic Lycan character FX suits, as well as the rest of the practical creature FX featured within “Underworld Awakening.” Throughout the course of production of this film, Masters and his team regularly consulted with original “Underworld” contributors Patrick Tatopoulos, Creature FX Designer/Supervisor, and Steve Wang, Creature FX Designer.
Said Masters, “Although Patrick Tatopoulos was in the midst of his work as Production Designer for ‘Total Recall,’ it was amazing to us the amount of effort and care he was nevertheless able to lend us during our pre-production on ‘Underworld Awakening.’ He not only assisted us in continuing the classic design style he established for the Lycan creatures, but he also somehow found time to knock-out several amazing illustrations of the new characters which first appear in this film: the ‘Tunnel Lycan’ and the ‘Uber.’”
Masters continues, “From there, Steve Wang took Patrick’s illustrations on a few of these new characters, and transformed them into these incredibly detailed maquettes – just beautiful. I’ve been fortune to know Patrick and Steve for nearly two decades now, and have always enjoyed their art. But this project was a real treat for me, and it was still amazing to watch these two creature ‘maestros’ work out such intricate designs. Their brilliance made it so much easier for our Vancouver team to then create these critters in full-scale.”
Regarding MASTERSFX’s contributions to “Underworld Awakening,” James McQuaide, the films’ Visual Effects Supervisor and Executive Producer, said, “’Underworld Awakening’ is by far the most creature intensive of the UW movies. And to make it even more of a challenge, the picture was shot in 5K and in stereo, which demanded that everyone up their game a notch or three. Many of the tricks that we have all come to rely on simply no longer work, the image now being so unforgiving, leaving absolutely no margin for error. The work that Todd Masters and his team at MASTERSFX delivered was exactly what this way of working required - perfection.”
“Underworld Awakening” also represents the first 3D project to which MASTERSFX has made a significant contribution. Masters adds, “Since this was our first major 3D project, we had to discipline ourselves into a quick learning curve, while we figured out just exactly how our practical FX work was going to appear on-screen. This process involves such an amazing level of data, every detail of our work was going to be suspect—it was like looking at our work under a magnifying glass. Every detail was heightened, and we even had to modify the coloring and design of some of our creatures to satisfy the discerning eyeball of the 3D camera.”
Masters concludes, “Even before confronting the 3D issues, we knew that we were the ‘new kids on the block’ in the ‘Underworld’ series, and, as such, couldn’t just deliver work that was ‘as good’ as what came before. We had to deliver work that was better than ever. So, right at the start of this project, the bar was extremely high, and adding the 3D aspect made this task even more challenging. It certainly elevated our game in the delicate art of monster-making.”