Directed by Peter Hyams
Visual Effects Supervisor: Greg McMurry

Visual Effects Produced by: VIFX

Creature Effects by: Stan Winston Studio

Screen Graphics Created by: Banned From The Ranch Entertainment

24fps Video Displays by: Video Image

The first major effects film of 1997 is Paramount's THE RELIC, directed by Peter Hyams, and produced by Gale Anne Hurd, who has produced some of the most fantastic visual effects films of the last decade, including ALIENS, THE TERMINATOR and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY.

Tom Sizemore and Penelope Ann Miller star in this thriller originally slated for a summer '96 release. For various reasons, the film was shelved until this January where it can compete with other big-time action films like TURBULENCE and JACKIE CHAN'S FIRST STRIKE.

THE RELIC is a surprisingly engaging thriller which features a gruesome monster--part reptilian, part human, all nasty. The film contains terrific visual effects provided by VIFX, as well as Stan Winston Studios. Much like T2 and JURASSIC PARK, Stan Winston created full-size creature effects for closeups, while an effects company created a computer generated version for wide shots and more articulated movements.

VIFX, under the supervision of Greg McMurry (whose name was featured in the opening title sequence) completed some 50 shots for the film, including some fantastic CG creature effects. The monster Kothoga looks and moves as good as any of the CG characters of 1996. VIFX did a great job with the CG Kothoga with the completion of awe-inspiring shots and technical wizardry.

The film's final minutes include many CG shots of Kothoga. One of my favorite shots is a long, slow, tracking shot of Kothoga turning a corner and climbing a flight of stairs. The virtual camera and the plate's camera are in perfect synch throughout the shot. Shadows and reflections help integrate the digital creature into the live action surroundings.

Banned from the Ranch Entertainment created extensive screen graphics for THE RELIC. All of the computer displays in the film were especially created for the production.

Perhaps the single best effects shot of the film occurs as a group of Chicago cops storm the museum, and realize that there is a gruesome monster around. In a single shot, a policeman runs toward the camera fearing his life, while Kothoga is hot on his trail. The creature catches up with him, grabs the cop and slices his head off. The corpse and head are flung aside as Kothoga fills the frame. Everything in the shot worked, and it is one of the awe-inspiring shots of the film. The mattes drawn to separate the cop from the creature must have been awfully complicated.

While chasing the heroine, Penelope Ann Miller, Kothoga crashes through offices and laboratories destroying the entire hallway in the process in a great sequence. Miller eventually sets the building on fire--Kothoga, his entire body burning, chases Miller through a series of rooms in another memorable sequence. The animation of the fire on the CG Kothoga as well as the compositing of the scene are great achievements for VIFX.

THE RELIC represents a terrific start for 1997 visual effects.

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