FX Review

FLUBBER - FX Credits - FX Review - Behind the Scenes - Stills

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The Real Star of the Film

Flubber is integrated into every frame, even with steam passing in front and behind the gooey creature. (Shot by ILM)
A number of different houses worked on the CG Flubber sequences, with the introductory and 'personality' shots going to Industrial Light & Magic, including the mambo dance sequence. Some of the best CG Flubber shots appear as Williams initially discovers the Flubber. The Flubber always seems a part of the background plate, even through steam, and even when it is taking up a major part of the frame. There are a number of memorable shots in this introductory scene, including the terrific shots of Williams ticking the Flubber. Another series of shots are simply dazzling--Williams stretches the Flubber, sticks his face into it, and rips it away, leaving an impression of his face on the Flubber. Williams' hand moves all over the place, and the Flubber is matchmoved perfectly, even when it transforms into a cube for a few seconds--where slight perspective changes become MUCH more apparent than in a glob of goo.

Dozens upon dozens of wide shots of Flubber bouncing all over the room were produced as Williams loses control of his new invention. In every case, the Flubber looks quite realistic bouncing from wall to wall or being handled by Williams' hands--shadows,

The gob of goo in Williams' glove. (Shot by Hammerhead)
motion blur, and integration with live action special effects contribute to the Flubber shots' realism. Only in one shot, where Williams plays hacky sack with balls of Flubber do the gobs have an oversaturated green tint. In every other shot, the Flubber bits match, even though many houses contributed to different shots.

In an early sequence, Flubber flies across town and blasts through someone's front door. In this hyperkinetic sequence, the Flubber flies right into the camera inspiring an enormous focus pull--the camera whip pans as the Flubber weaves its way through a screen door in a dazzling effect, splitting it into hundreds of tiny gobs. The memorable sequence continues as dozens of tiny balls of goo bounce all over the poor, unsuspecting family's home. This sequence is filled with so much action and interesting visuals, that it could easily be the best Flubber-action scene of the film.

In Williams' fiance's office, look carefully at the Flubber in Williams' hands, and you can see the accurate reflections of the office windows accurately wrapped around the Flubber. It's that kind of attention to reflections, refractions and match moving that lend to the Flubber shots' success.

Perhaps the highlight of all the Flubber scenes is the extended dance number that appears near the end of the movie. Flubber splits up into a number of globs, and goes

ILM executed the film's mambo dance numbers, featuring CG Flubbers and oversized sets shot motion control for backgrounds.
into this complicated dance number that begins on the Professor's floor, and ends up in an extraordinary mambo dance sequence on his window box. ILM's character animation department really shines throughout these complicated shots, evoking memories of old Technicolor musicals not only in camera movement but in the Flubbers' dancing, art direction and cinematography. Camera moves are not over stylized, and seemed rooted in the real world, as the dancing Flubbers bring out some of the film's most genuine laughs. It's quite easy to forget all the issues of shadows, reflection, refraction, matchmoving, and everything else that goes into a scene like this, because the audience is mesmerized, and forced to just sit back and enjoy the show.

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FLUBBER - FX Credits - FX Review - Behind the Scenes - Stills

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. . VFX HQ Produced by Todd Vaziri . . http://www.vfxhq.com . . e-mail: tvaziri@gmail.com . .
All text Copyright © 1998 Todd Vaziri, unless otherwise noted