Programming VFX creations to behave like organs

by Geert Lebens, 22 February 2015

“It’s Alive!” is a VFX short by Erik Ferguson, a visual artist and short filmmaker. In this creation we sneak into a lab where we are witnessing some scientific practice and where we get to meet these artificial creatures, moving and behaving like living organs. It’s obvious that we find ourselves in a place where these creatures where born under mysterious circumstances. This place and it’s creatures were never meant to be revealed to the public. The film seems to be part of a leaked file from a lab which must have hidden its practices and intentions.

Ferguson is an expert in using several 3D and motion software programs in a project to achieve the ultimate hyperrealistic effect. He works with a combination of Side Effects Houdini, for 3D drawing; Zbrush, for sculpting and texturing and Nuke, for compositing. “I love the combination of these three pieces of software and the amount of control, flexibility and speed they give me,” he explains.

About these virtually created creatures Ferguson said: “Placing them in a realistic environment like a lab would automatically ‘authenticate’ them and plant some thoughts into the viewers head.” He wants viewers to ask questions like, “‘Who is the person doing these experiments?’ ‘Are they legal?’ ‘Is he hiding his experiments from other people?'”. It is a way of sic-fi dreaming. But is this a fantasy, or does he make our fears and anxieties come to life to confront us with them? “I wanted to make a film that challenges the notion that computers are dead and lifeless,” he claims. If he did or did not do this on purpose, he is creating a sort of speculative piece of art. Although it might not have been intensionally he choose to stay within the field of our near future in technological advance. What really appeals to Ferguson is to step in the shoes of the mad scientist and fuzzy brain that creates these creatures that are the subjects of his films. He loves creating this artificial reality with an organic feel out of a cold square machine. “Having the freedom to create any form, shape, surface and material you can imagine, and then running them through a ‘correct’ physical force system can yield some really interesting results.” Nevertheless his way of working shows how artists can mean something in public debates over technology related societal matters. It shows the power and the relevance of fantasies and dreams and how they can become social.

via: The Creators Project






Note: Erik Ferguson also provided the British Channel 4 series ‘Black Mirror‘ with visual effects. Black Mirror is a series existing out of several speculative future scenarios, each featured in a short trilogy.

Reed more about the Black Mirror project.

Visit Erik Ferguson’s website and check out more of his short video creations.