Iloura News

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Iloura’s “Game of Thrones” Work Earns Outstanding VFX HPA Award

The annual HPA (Hollywood Professional Association) Awards honouring groundbreaking technology and creativity were held in Los Angeles at the Skirball Cultural Center on November 17, and the awards juggernaut “Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards” episode was honoured once again.

Iloura VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst received the 2016 HPA Award for Outstanding VFX in Television alongside Joe Bauer, Eric Carney, Derek Spears and Matthew Rouleau.

The enthusiasm that Iloura’s “Game of Thrones” work has received and continues to enjoy is tremendously gratifying. Thanks to our entire Iloura team for helping us succeed with such an ambitious undertaking and continuing to push the envelope in VFX.

Posted: 19/11/2016

Iloura’s Jason Billington Nominated for Best VFX Oscar for “Deepwater Horizon"

Among the nominees for the Best Visual Effects Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards, our own  Jason Billington has been recognised for his work on Deepwater Horizon. Jason led 125 artists across Iloura’s Sydney and Melbourne studios, collaborating closely with ILM and VFX Supervisor Craig Hammack.

The Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 26 at the Dolby Theatre.

Congratulations and best of luck to Jason and fellow Deepwater Horizon nominees Craig Hammack, Jason Snell and Burt Dalton! 

Full list on nominees :  

Posted: 25/01/2017


Professionals across Australian film, television, stage and interactive industries gathered in Sydney on November 7 to celebrate excellence in the art of crafting visuals at the annual APDG (Australian Production Design Guild) Awards. Continuing an impressive awards season run, Iloura’s work on Game of Thrones episode “Battle of the Bastards” was honoured for 3D Visual Effects Design, and Iloura Sydney artist Gerhard Mozsi was recognised for drawing and concept design on Gods of Egypt. The wonderful event was a testament to Australia’s incredible talent. Congrats to all APDG honorees!

Posted: 09/11/2016

Deluxe’s Iloura Heightens Intensity in Deepwater Horizon

On April 20th, 2010, one of the world’s largest man-made disasters occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater Horizon from Summit Entertainment and Participant Media, honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever. Iloura was briefed to heighten realism in many of the film’s high action sequences, adding digital mud, fire and smoke. To ensure continuity across shots and deliver industry leading visual effects, the Iloura team, led by VFX Supervisor Jason Billington, collaborated closely with lead vendor ILM (Disney’s Industrial Light & Magic) and VFX Supervisor Craig Hammack.

Iloura’s most significant contribution to the film was the creation of the massive engine explosion that ignites the rig fire. When workers hit a methane pocket while drilling for oil, the gas travels up the pipes and fills the engine room, seeping into the engine that ultimately explodes. To achieve the optimal dramatic impact, Iloura designed and created a full CG engine interior;artists digitally built, then animated the engine as well as a CG version of the engine room that is engulfed by fire. Artists also added CG flames, embers, mud, explosions and fireballs to various plates, expertly blending shots containing practical and digital elements.

“Creating realistic CG that matches in-camera mud was an exciting challenge; we had to be able to make adjustments as shots evolved, and realistically create other environmental effects. The sheer volume of work kept us on our toes, but we’re well equipped to handle any challenge. ILM was an excellent partner, happy to share reference footage and assets that we successfully integrated with our pipeline, and the final result speaks to our successful working relationship,” said Billington.

Beyond the challenges of matching CG and in-camera elements, Iloura completed a significant volume of shots requiring atmospheric effects. To efficiently manage and execute these shots, lloura built a new fire ember pipeline for faster iteration. Additional Iloura work includes the generator room ceiling collapse, CG set extensions and CG ocean enhancements. Iloura also made significant pipeline adjustments to integrate ILM’s data-heavy oil rig asset, resulting in final renders and composites that blended seamlessly with shots by ILM. Approximately 125 Iloura artists worked on Deepwater Horizon across its Sydney and Melbourne studios. The film was colored by Stefan Sonnenfeld at Deluxe’s Company 3.

Directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, John Malkovich and Kate Hudson, Deepwater Horizon released in the US on September 30 and in Australian cinemas on October 4. 

Posted: 08/11/2016

Iloura Teams Recognised With Two AACTA Award Nominations

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) has announced nominees for its 6th Annual Awards, and two of the four nominations in the Best Visual Effects or Animation category recognised work done by Iloura teams – on Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards” and Gods of Egypt.  

The AACTA Awards are held annually in Sydney in recognition and celebration of Australia’s highest achievements in film and television, as judged by the industry itself. 

The Iloura teams – Andrew Hellen, James Whitlam, and Julian Dimsey for Gods of Egypt and Glenn Melenhorst and Ineke Major for Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards are recognised alongside industry colleagues John Dykstra, Matt Slan, Blondel Aidoo, and Cameron Waldbauer (for X-Men: Apocalypse – Quicksilver Extraction); and Joe Bauer, Steve Kullback, Sam Conway, Hubert Maston, and Anthony Smith (for Game of Thrones “Sept. Wildfire Destruction”)

The winners will be announced at the 6th Annual AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel ceremony on Wednesday, 7 December, in Sydney.

See the full list of nominees

Posted: 28/10/2016

Deluxe's Iloura VFX team wins an Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards!

HBO’s Game of Thrones was honored with its fifth straight Outstanding Special Visual Effects Award at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, held Saturday, September 10 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.

Praised as one of the series’ best episodes to date, the Award-winning “Battle of the Bastards” was a monumental undertaking, including significant visual effects (VFX) work from Iloura.

Iloura VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst (pictured) was honored as part of the visual effects team that included Steve Kullback, Joe Bauer, Adam Chazen, Sam Conway, Derek Spears, Eric Carney, Matthew Roleau and Michelle Blok.

Melenhorst said, “Game of Thrones is such a successful and well-loved franchise so the chance to work on ‘Battle of the Bastards’ was hugely exciting. Steve Kullback and Joe Bauer have set an incredibly high bar for VFX quality and we made sure to keep that standard. I’m immensely proud of our Iloura team and grateful to have been a part of such a historic episode.”

Iloura artists used a mix of VFX and hand-crafted animation techniques to realise the vision for the pivotal battle, creating many photorealistic horse and rider collisions, 3,000-strong armies, a mix of close-ups featuring live-action and CG humans and animals and massive crowd simulations, as well as hundreds of assets – CG armoury, weapons, flags, saddlery, body parts, and environmental assets such as blood, mud, smoke, fire and mist. See a behind-the scenes video and details of Iloura’s work on “Battle of the Bastards” here.

Deluxe President of Visual Effects, Ed Ulbrich, said, “The VFX work on this episode is just stunning. We’re incredibly proud of Glenn and the Iloura team for their contribution and honored that our industry colleagues consider the work among the year’s best.”

"Congrats to all the Iloura team who either worked on the show or supported those who did. It's a fantastic achievement and on the back of this years Oscar nomination for Mad Max: Fury Rd, shows the world the quality of work we're capable of producing." Simon Rosenthal- Head of VFX Iloura.

Posted: 12/09/2016

Iloura Takes Home Gold AEAF Award for “Game of Thrones” VFX

Iloura’s impressive VFX work on Game of Thrones’ “Battle of the Bastards” episode earned top honors at the 19th Annual AEAF (Animation & Effects Awards Festival) Awards, taking home Gold in the TV Series category.

Winners were announced August 17, 2016 at the AEAF Awards night gala in Sydney, which celebrated the VFX and post production community and their fine work. 

As part of AEAF’s Speaker Program, Iloura's VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst discussed the complexity of creating and managing exciting, photoreal shots for the tremendous battle sequence in “Battle of the Bastards.” Congratulations to all the artists that worked on this incredible project!

Iloura congratulates all the other nominees and winners. 

Posted: 18/08/2016

Simon Rosenthal talks to GQ Magazine

Simon Rosenthal, Head of VFX at Australia’s Oscar and Emmy-nominated VFX house Iloura, speaks to us about the special effects industry, working with Seth MacFarlane, and how SpongeBob is more complex than Jon Snow.

Iloura is a company on the rise, having worked on recent blockbusters such as Ted, The Great Gatsby, Ghostbusters and Mad Max: Fury Road, for which they received an Oscar nomination. Seth MacFarlane calls Iloura’s work on Ted “the finest character animation I’ve ever seen on film”. And while Ghostbusters received initial criticism prior to the film’s release from fans overly protective of their beloved franchise, it’s had a strong showing, both critically and in the box office, since it came out.

To top things off, last week they received their first ever Emmy nomination for their spectacular work on the ‘Battle of the bastards’ episode of Game of Thrones – arguably the greatest battle scene ever seen on television. And this is what the show’s VFX producer, Steve Kullback, had to say about Iloura’s work: “We constantly needed to review Iloura’s shots side by side with the photography because it was hard to remember and even harder to see the difference between what was shot and what was added. Amazing.”

It may seem like Iloura is an overnight success but the company’s history actually goes back some 30 odd years, making them one of the older players in the special effects business. They started with basic post-production services in advertising and then branched out into animation in 1999 when they decided to buy a local animation company in Melbourne. From there, it would be another six years before they tried their luck with feature films.

Their first US feature was Charlotte’s Web, which was shot in and around Melbourne and released in 2006. Since then it’s been onwards and upwards.

GQ: It’s pretty exciting you got nominated for an Emmy.

Simon RosenthalYes it’s pretty exciting, isn’t it? It’s been 20 odd years doing this and we’ve finally got a nomination. In fairness we did get a nomination for an Oscar for Fury Road. But I think we’re a good chance with the Emmy so we’ll see how it plays out.

When did you start with the company?

I joined in '96 so I’ve been here for just over 20 years. I’ve been here for most of the ride. As indeed have a lot of other people. It’s a business that’s been able to maintain its core workforce, which has been fabulous. There are a lot of people here who’ve been here for a long period of time.

Is it hard getting work in the US, being based in Australia?

No. It’s our core target. In 2015, 96 per cent of our revenue came from the US market. And this year we’re expecting it to roughly be around 99 per cent.

So Australian VFX houses have a good reputation over there?

We do. But the other advantage of Australia is that you get a great rebate from the federal government so it’s a very attractive proposition. And the dollar is obviously low compared to the US dollar and that’s incredibly helpful. But we also just keep on churning out great work. Whether it’s us or Animal Logic, Rising Sun or Luma, there are some great facilities in Australia. And we can provide a great service to what I’d say is a fairly difficult industry – a highly competitive industry. 

Switching gears to Game of Thrones, how long did it take to create that battle scene?

We were on the show for about eight or nine months. They were an incredibly organised, really efficient production. They’ve obviously done this for many years, so they knew exactly what they were doing. They know exactly what they need. And they were incredibly helpful all throughout the process. Eight or nine months is sort of our standard duration for a project.

Even for feature films?

Yeah. We were doing Ghostbusters at the same time. And that ran for pretty much the same period of time. Unless you’re getting into a heavy character animation piece. When we did SpongeBob, that was much longer. That was well over a year. So they’ve got to be organised and really have everything mapped out beautifully so that everything can fall into place and work.

How much creative freedom do you get?

Depends on the job. With Game of Thrones, these guys knew exactly what they want and how they wanted it to look. It was an exercise in working through how we would implement that; how we would make that happen. Other projects like Ghostbusters, we were given a little more latitude to help design and work with the ghosts to see what they should look like.

How closely do you work with the directors?

We tend to work with a visual effects supervisor: they’re the intermediary between us and the director. Occasionally we will work very closely with the director. We worked pretty closely with Seth MacFarlane on Ted. But normally you’d like to think there would be a bit of a go-between who can help us navigate the fairly complex process. It also depends on how many special effects house are working on a particular job. Sometimes there’s just one and sometimes there are a dozen, depending on the size of the job. 

How do you deal with security in regards to spoilers and leaks?

We’re pretty rigid with our security here. We get audited by the Motion Picture Association of America on a fairly regular basis. A lot of it is around physical security, but also digital security. So we’ve got some pretty good procedures in place. And contractually there are things that we can and can’t say, which is absolutely fine. We understand that. And you just have to adhere to them.

You’ve worked with Seth MacFarlane on multiple occasions: on the Ted films as well as A million ways to die in the west. How did that partnership come about?

We were working on Ghostrider and some of the people connected with that film were also connected to Seth on Ted. Now Ted hadn’t actually been greenlit by the studio yet at that point. My understanding was that Seth was looking for some sort of proof of concept to show the studio that this would actually work. So we did a test for him. Basically we brought Ted to life, and once it was greenlit, we were given the opportunity to work on the project based on the fact that we’d done this test for him. 

That must have been a fun project.

It was a lot of fun to work on. We’re very careful with the way we select our projects. We want to enjoy working on them. You get the best results by immersing the team into a particular project so we’re very careful about the projects we choose. And Game of Thrones was a project that everyone was so incredibly enthusiastic and motivated about so that worked really well. Ghostbusters was another project that people here particularly enjoyed. It played to the strengths of the business around animation. You’ve got to pick horses for courses.

Are you happy with how Ghostbusters turned out?

There was a lot of bad press about Ghostbusters and I think it was unnecessary bad press prior to its release. The reviews and the box office have been strong so I would like to think that Sony is pretty happy with the result. I have no issue with the fanbase having a go at the film if they’ve seen it and if it doesn’t match their expectations but the reality is until you’ve actually sat down and watched the two hours of it, you’re really not in a position to comment.

Have there any projects that you weren’t happy with personally?

There have been some projects we’ve done where, in retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have taken them on. And it’s not always the entire project. What they’ll do with projects is that they’ll break them up into sequences and they’ll give us sequence A, B, C and another visual effects house D, E and F and so on. And sometimes, while A and B may be incredibly suitable to the business, C may not be. And that’s when it gets a bit challenging, when you think, well actually this isn’t really our area of expertise. But I’d say overall, by virtue of our selection process, and making sure that we do pick the right job, they’re few and far between

How many artists worked on ‘Battle of the bastards’?

It was about 90. 

That’s quite a lot.

Yeah, well as far the projects we do, they can vary from 30 to up to 120, 150 even. Depending on what the project is. It can be a challenge finding the right crew and the right skillsets for a job but you’ve just got to go through the process. We go through a vigilant recruiting and vetting process to make sure that the people we bring in are indeed the right people for the job.

So how do you feel about the Emmys?

We’ll just wait and see what happens over the next month or so. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed really.

How would you celebrate if you win?

I’m sure there would be a fair whack of champagne spread around. It’s a great landmark and a great milestone for the business if we win. It’s just so extraordinarily exciting. These opportunities don’t come up that often – to be nominated for an Emmy and for a project like Game of Thrones is just fantastic. So fingers crossed that it all comes off.

Will you be working on the show in future seasons as well?

Possibly. I would like to think so. It was an enjoyable experience. It was a tough experience but it was an enjoyable experience. So I’d like to think there’s an opportunity there. Obviously they’ve got another season coming up now and we’ll see how that plays out. We’d absolutely like to. But it depends on timing. It depends on what other projects we’ve got playing. We’ll just wait and see but I think the general feeling from the group is that it would be a fantastic opportunity to get involved again.

So what’s next for Iloura?

We’re finishing off a film called Deepwater Horizon, which is a really interesting looking movie. The trailer looks fabulous. We’re halfway through a film being directed by Angelina Jolie called First they killed my father, which again is a really interesting story. And then there’s a whole raft of other bits and pieces and some pretty exciting projects in bid that I can’t mention just yet.

And finally, what’s a dream project that you’d like to work on in the future?

A dream project would be an Animated Feature at the quality level of Pixar. Failing that, maybe a comedy directed by Seth MacFarlane starring lots of nasty creatures!

Posted: 29/07/2016