Entity FX Completes Visual Effects For "Into The Wild"

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Last Updated: November 1, 2007 4:54 pm GMT
(Santa Monica, California--November 1, 2007) Entity FX, an award-winning feature film, television and commercial visual effects company in Santa Monica, CA, and Vancouver, British Columbia, has handled visual effects for the motion picture "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage).

Directed by Sean Penn and based on a true story recounted in Jon Krakauer's bestselling novel, the movie seamlessly leverages digital visual effects to support its cinematic portrayal of a young man's journey away from civilization in search of himself.

In the film, Emile Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless, a promising college graduate who leaves family, possessions and security behind to venture across North America and into the Alaskan wild. Marcia Gay Harden, Hal Holbrook, William Hurt, Catherine Keener and Vince Vaughn also star in the production, which followed McCandless's actual travel route.

Entity FX collaborated for a year and a half on the project, producing more than 100 visual effects shots. This included photorealistically re-creating a flashflood in the Arizona desert; conjuring up a digital dust storm at the Sea of Cortez; and performing a range of "invisible" paint, speed, continuity, sky and weather effects. Entity FX additionally digitally aged footage for flashback sequences, animated multi-panel travel collages, superimposed on-screen handwriting elements and worked on the film's main titles.

"Sean displayed a lot of commitment toward authenticity in making this film, and it shows," said Mat Beck, Senior VFX Supervisor at Entity FX. "He was intent on visual effects being a seamless part of that process, and we put a lot of energy toward honoring this spirit and helping him bring the smallest details of Chris' world to life. I think the fact that there are over 100 visual effects shots hidden in the movie speaks to that effort."

The "wash" sequence presented the challenge of creating a sudden desert flash flood that engulfs Chris' car. Working from day-shot footage, Entity FX combined matte paintings, CG water, real water elements, sky replacement, digital and practical lightning, CG cracked windshields and digital desert plants to convey the action and the mood with a dramatic nighttime look. For the ensuing aftermath scene, Entity FX 3D-tracked Emile, shot on greenscreen, and inserted him into crane/steadicam footage of the landscape after the fact.

In one particularly challenging shot, the camera pulls out over about a minute and a half from an extreme closeup of Chris' "magic bus" to an aerial view of the surrounging wilds. Entity FX previsualized the shot in advance of the shoot, allowing a crane move in the Alaskan tundra to link up smoothly through 3D matte paintings with scenic helicopter footage in a single sweeping camera move.

Entity FX's toolset for Into the Wild included Autodesk Inferno and Flame systems for painting and compositing, Adobe After Effects for rotoscoping and splitscreen effects and Autodesk Maya for 3D animation and modelling. The visual effects team consisted of: Mat Beck: senior visual effects supervisor; Kymber Lim: visual effects executive producer; Marty Taylor: visual effects supervisor; Tricia Pifer: head of production; Rod Park: visual effects producer; Jason Sanford: visual effects associate producer; Eli Jarra, Brian Petras, Joseph Brattesani, Matthew Collorafice and Christina Garranchan: compositors; David Alexander: lead CGI artist; Rik Panero: CG artist; Dax Siplin: 2D artist; Jeremy Renteria: junior 2D artist; Kaz Yoshida; CG previs artist; and Scott Berri: visual effects production coordinator.

About Entity FX
Entity FX is an award-winning visual effects studio specializing in feature film, television and commercials. With facilities in Santa Monica, California, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Entity FX delivers creativity on the demands of today's production with a range of services in pre-visualization, on-set supervision, virtual backgrounds, matte painting, environmental effects, compositing, CG animation, specialty photography and more.

Entity FX has contributed visual effects artistry to a range of motion pictures, recently including Into the Wild, Rush Hour 3, The Air I Breathe, Miami Vice, Spider-Man 2, The Aviator, Scary Movie 4, Herbie: Fully Loaded and many others. Credits in television include Smallville, Pushing Daisies and numerous other television pilots, specials and shows. For more information, visit http://www.entityfx.com or call (310) 899-9779 (Santa Monica) or (604) 646-2400 (Vancouver).

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