Interview with Marco Menco, 3D Creature Artist
How did Image Engine become involved with The Thing?
The Thing was awarded to Image Engine partly on the strength of District 9, which proved that the company could provide creature animation of the highest quality. Also, Visual Effects Executive Producer Steve Garrad had previously worked with Jennifer Bell (Universal) on Hellboy 2 at Double Negative.
Image Engine provided over 500 visual effects shots for The Thing. Jesper Kjolsrud helmed the project as the production Visual Effects Supervisor. The team worked closely with Director Matthijs Van Heijningen, Producers Mark Abraham and Eric Newman, Visual Effects Producer Petra Holtorf and Universal Pictures to realize a new vision for the 2011 film.
Image Engine's contribution spanned over a year, from pre-planning, on-set supervision through to post-production with a crew of over 100. The majority of the work involved creating computer generated creature transformations and digital environments. In all, there were 167 creature shots that were 100% computer generated.
What parts of production on The Thing was Image Engine responsible for?
Image Engine was the main vendor for the visual effects on The Thing project. We worked on both creatures and environments, building models that varied from characters, props and vehicles to vast set extensions. We developed the character transformations including fully computer generated creatures, with effects like blood and slime. We also created full CG sets with snow and fire.
The original The Thing is of course a movie classic. What was your approach to the project and your goals for making it stand out from the original?
Of course the original The Thing was a huge inspiration during the creation of the creatures. We approached this film with the intent to mesmerize the audience, keeping people's attention watching the creatures moving across the screen. As Director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. would often say, the creatures had to look "horrifically beautiful."
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