Over the years, Jelmer Boskma (known at ZBC under the user name Jelmer) has used ZBrush to create some truly memorable characters. Who could forget his treatment of Johnny Depp, or his Senator Tumblestone and Mr. Bigears creations? Over the last couple of years he has been pretty quiet on ZBC but that certainly isn’t because he hasn’t been creative! In fact he has been extremely busy, working on such projects as Tron: Legacy, Thor and more recently, Warm Bodies.
While zombies have appeared in a large number of productions over the years, Look Effects and Jelmer wanted to give them a new twist: creating a look where their clothing had actually begun to become absorbed into their decaying bodies. In today’s interview, he talks about how ZBrush was used to help accomplish that – and much more!
Your resume shows that you're currently with two separate companies. How do they relate?
Besides being under a full time contract with Look Effects, I run my own company through which I take on design work for film and television. The design work tends to be for smaller productions, both for makeup effects and VFX projects. The work I do at Look Effects is all in post production. I've ended up doing a fair bit of concept and paintover work at Look Effects as well, so there is some similarity.
How do you juggle so many hats?
The work in post production can sometimes be a bit technical and precise. The concept work allows me the opportunity to quickly generate ideas and give my work a more personal touch. I greatly enjoy both fields, especially in the current position I have at Look Effects where I get to combine a lot of my interests. I have an interest in pretty much all artistic aspects of a film production, whether it's makeup, vfx, set or costume design. Being involved with concept work early on, and then through the sculpting of our creatures or painting matte extensions is a great luxury. But the variety is something I need.
At what point did you become involved with "Warm Bodies"?
I was contacted by Look Effects when they were just awarded the show. Look had generated a fair bit of buzz with their excellent work on Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan", but had not done any full-on creature work before. At that moment in time, they were able to show me some of the early concept work for the creatures done by Peter Konig, which greatly excited me. I had been familiar with Peter's work for many years, and have always been a fan of his sensibility and design sense. The concepts for the "boneys" had the right elements to make it feasible for a smaller studio to make it work on screen. The timing worked out, plus the opportunity to help getting a creature pipeline off the ground fora brand new facility in Vancouver... well it all sounded great!
What were your responsibilities on the project?
Having been on board throughout the entire project, I played a few different roles. I started out translating Peter's approved final painting into a digital maquette using ZBrush.
After approval was given, I moved on to modeling the animation cage and finishing the final details on the model.
After finishing the initial model I supervised the asset work, which included the creation of all our boney variations. Included in the asset work was the creation of an extensive facial and corrective blend shapes library for the boneys.
Throughout the entire project I found myself doing concepts, paintovers and in the later stages, after Look dev had been pretty much finalized on the boneys, I moved on to working on matte paintings.