Iloura News

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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

Putting the Ghost in Ghostbusters

The team at Iloura completed 500 shots on Ghostbusters, led by Iloura VFX Supervisors Glenn Melenhorst and Andrew Hellen and Iloura VFX Producers Ineke Majoor and Jeannette Manifold. Iloura’s slate of work focused on look development for and creation of ghostly characters.

Pete Travers, Sony Studios’ VFX Supervisor for Ghostbusters, said, “Iloura played such a strong role in the design of our ghosts. From the first test in pre-production which they hit out of the park, everything Iloura produced was not only of extremely high quality, but had such a strong aspect of creative design, in ways that we hadn't asked or expressed. They went the extra mile, and it always paid off from our vantage point. Glenn and his team made it easy on us, defining the look of our ghostly beings like Gertrude, the Rock Concert Ghost and the Mirror Ghouls.”

For Gertrude, a live-action/CG hybrid (sometimes full CG) who ‘lives’ in the library, artists built a skeletal system, designed and added her clothes and lower body, and finished with a celestial aura. 

Another Iloura creation was the band of Mirror Ghouls. The filmmakers envisioned them as decomposed creatures recessed in a dark world who take on a suggestive form from afar, but become more legible as they approach the mirror surface and try to escape. To achieve this, Iloura’s artists developed a number of looks for the translucent creatures from the recessed world, as well as more creepy, human-like forms that appear close to the surface.

Mayhem, a large and ominous all-CG ghost who inhabits a concert stadium and appears as part of a heavy metal stage show, was another Iloura creation. He needed to retain a ghostly, translucent look, but with subtle real-world detail such as skin texture and hair which needed to float and move as he flew through the air. An internal glow dubbed a “jelly pass” was added to give him an inner ghostly glow on top of his skeleton and muscle system. In some of the more complex shots, the dry-ice aura and vapor effects needed to interact with the concert crowd and the main actors to bring more believability to the scene.

Other characters completed by Iloura include ghost rats and the Show Ghost featured in a sequence with Bill Murray’s character.

Sony Studios’ VFX Producer for the feature, Sean Santiago, said, “I knew that when Iloura said they could do something they would, and they would exceed expectations, and despite the many, many curveballs thrown their way, Iloura continued to deliver quality work. It was an absolute pleasure working with Iloura and something I hope to repeat soon and often.”

Ghostbusters is currently in cinemas.

Posted: 25/07/2016

The Hollywood Reporter: Outstanding Special Visual Effects Emmy® Nomination

Iloura's VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst, was recognised with a nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards” episode.

The Hollywood Reporter:  Reactions from nominees on 'Game of Thrones' JULY 14, 2016 by Carolyn Giardina

HBO's Game of Thrones led Thursday's Emmy nominations with 23 mentions, with many in crafts areas including cinematography, editing, makeup and sound.

The Creative Arts Emmys will be handed out on Sept. 10 and 11. As the results came in on Thursday morning, some of the crafts category nominees shared their reactions with The Hollywood Reporter. Here's what they had to say:

Glenn Melenhorst, visual effects, Game of Thrones

“I have watched Game of Thrones since season one, agog at the quality and audacity of the visual effects, so it goes without saying that we were beyond excited to be able to work with Joe Bauer and Steve Kullback on [the episode] ‘Battle of the Bastards," said Melenhorst, VFX supervisor at Deluxe's Iloura, one of the VFX houses that works on the HBO series. "It is historic television, and to be part of that history is very gratifying for the whole team here at Iloura. It’s hugely exciting to be recognized by our peers in this way. Congratulations to the team here at Iloura and to the other nominees." 

Posted: 18/07/2016


Deluxe’s Iloura Creates Crescendo VFX for Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards" 

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group announces that its Australian animation and visual effects studio Iloura delivered a significant suite of work for the recent “Battle of the Bastards” episode of HBO’s tentpole series Game of Thrones. Working on the epic battle sequence for the Season 6, Episode 9 crescendo, Iloura’s team of visual artists used a mix of VFX and hand-crafted animation techniques to realize the vision for the bloody showdown.

Iloura’s work was led by VFX Supervisor Glenn Melenhorst on the pivotal sequences that bring to a head the heated feud that had been brewing between hero Jon Snow and his army of Wildlings, and the Boltons, led by Snow’s nemesis Ramsay Bolton. 

The battle required 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. Iloura was selected to work on the episode after presenting the show’s VFX Producer and Supervisor, Steve Kullback and Joe Bauer, with a series of tests presenting photoreal CG horses and riders colliding with other horses, rendered from various points of view. With Games of Thrones’ huge fan base, its exceptional production values and the scrutiny that is placed on the VFX across the series, it was essential that Iloura prove its strength via its rigging and muscle pipeline and the robustness of its animation team.

“Battle of the Bastards is shocking in its audacity,” said HBO’s VFX Producer for Game of Thrones Steve Kullback. “More shocking still that we pulled it off and so much credit for that goes to Iloura. We are up close and personal in this battle with CG horses and collisions right in front of the lens and 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."

To meet the animation challenges, Iloura’s artists researched and reviewed video references of horse behaviour in scenarios such as steeple chases, jousting, racing and associated accidents to garner an accurate representation to achieve the shots. Witness cams of horses captured on set proved to be valuable resources for the animation team as they provided multiple angles of reference for the same actions. Further, Iloura tapped its large library of animated clips to quickly assemble a blocking pass for shots, which became the foundation for animation that ended up on screen. Overall, the animation work consisted of motion capture, rotomation and key frame for horses as well as soldiers, building into a library of custom interactions and motion behaviours that could be used for both close-up shots as well as crowd shots built in Massive.

The initial brief was for the Wildling and Bolton armies to face off and then collide, but once production began, it became increasingly apparent that more complexity would be required. Each army comprised smaller factions with custom armour, weapons, flags, banners, saddles, bridles etc. Further, every asset needed a clean, pre-battle version as well as a muddy version, a bloodied version and a very-muddy-very-bloody variant.

To achieve the high-density shots and photoreal quality required, Iloura revamped its pipeline considerably and integrated systems. Its internal publishing tool ‘BOSS’ was improved to help with the number of assets, animation publishes and traffic going through the pipeline; Massive was integrated into the render and shading pipeline, and large sections were re-engineered to allow for more control and flexibility, with the pipeline moving completely to Alembic with rigging, animation and lighting achieved in Maya, FX in Houdini and compositing in Nuke using deep pixel compositing.

Game of Thrones “Battle of the Bastards” episode aired in the US on June 19 on HBO.

Posted: 29/06/2016

Iloura Partners with FMX 2016

Iloura is excited to be a part of the FMX conference in Stuttgart, Germany from April 26th -29th.

Iloura’s Dan Bethell (VFX Supervisor) will be giving a talk about Mad Max: Fury Road on Tuesday 26th April and Julian Dimsey (VFX Supervisor) will give a case study on Gods Of Egypt on Friday 29th April. We’ll also be present at a studio insight discussion on tackling VFX on Tuesday 26th April.  

Our recruiters, Debbie Cramb and Magdalena Bisogni will be in the Recruiting Hub all week and look forward to meeting you.

Please make sure you drop by and say hello!

For more info:

Recruiting Hub at FMX

Dan Bethell Mad Max: Fury Road FMX

Julian Dimsey Gods of Egypt FMX 

Posted: 01/04/2016

What a lovely day for 'Mad Max: Fury Road' at the Oscars

The Oscar's biggest winner was Mad Max: Fury Road, nominated for a total of ten Academy Awards, Fury Road went on to win six: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Editing, Best Sound Mix and Best Sound Editing. 

Iloura was specifically nominated with Iloura VFX Supervisor Tom Wood's nomination in the Visual Effects category, acknowledging the incredible work that the Iloura team did on the film. 

Iloura created the toxic storm sequence in the film, which recently earned a VES award, as well as the Citadel location and a host of other VFX features, completing over 1,600 visual effects shots in total. Congratulations to everyone involved for their staggering work and success with Mad Max: Fury Road!

Posted: 07/03/2016