Real world visual effects in ‘Real Steel’ bring Erik Nash Oscar bid [Video]

Visual effect wiz Erik Nash says that the key to getting his Oscar vote is consistency. “The visual effects on a given movie are only as good as the least effective shots of the movie,” explained Nash in a video chat with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum. “If there’s a shot or handful of shots … because it didn’t fit in with the scene or it isn’t consistent with everything else, as a moviegoer that takes me out of the movie. All of a sudden, I am aware of the visual effects, and I mark that down significantly.”

Nash and his “Real Steel” team (Swen Gillberg, John Rosengrant and Dan Taylor) hope that this year’s Oscar voters will reward their consistency and visionary work. They are nominated for Best Visual Effects against “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” “Hugo,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” He had a previous nod in 2005 as supervisor for “I, Robot” but lost to “Spider-Man 2.”

In his thirty-year career, Nash has worked as visual effects supervisor on “Armageddon,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” and “Red Planet.” And he has served as visual effects director of photography for “Apollo 13,” “Star Trek: Nemesis,” “Stealth,” and “Titanic.” Before his film work, he contended for six Emmy Awards and won in 1992 and 1994 for “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

For Shawn Levy‘s film “Real Steel,” he and his Digital Domain staff conceived an innovative process that brought the virtual world to the location shoots in Detroit with actor Hugh Jackman and the stuntmen. They used the Simul-Cam system created for James Cameron‘s wonderland of “Avatar” to direct CG characters as if they were actually in the boxing rings on set.

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Nash added, “We used that technology to put synthetic characters, i.e. our boxing robots, into real world environments. Using these real-time motion capture technologies allowed us to do particularly the robot boxing matches themselves in a much more organic and filmmaker-friendly way. We were able to shoot these fights as they would shoot human boxing.”

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