Tricky FX by Digital Domain

Here is a familiar story of hard work by one of my favorite studios Digital Domain, the studio behind the Benjamin Button VFX and other iconic films. This story is about a shot from the new Transformers movie that took 3 months to finish only 2 seconds of film. Possible spoilers, so be warned.

Check out the Article at Gizmodo

And please, no movie reviews here. Whether you loved-it or hated-it, this is NOT a movie review site and I don’t want to start frivolous debates. Now, if you can relate to this story from a professional stand-point and would like to share one of your battles, please do.

BTW, I don’t usually post outside stories but I think it could be a fun thing to share interesting articles related to motion graphics & visual effects from time to time. What do you think about that?

July 7th, 2009 @ 5:29 pm
Interesting...thanks for the article, I like when you post them.
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:33 pm
I think its a great idea thank you Andrew :)
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:38 pm
that movie was sooo ------.........never mind no comment....interesting article! thanks for the link.
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:41 pm
Currently working on an ad for Jägermeister and I'm dealing with the exact opposite:
Highly complex simulationbehaviours wurks.
sasha strelnikoff
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:42 pm
Sam GIlbert
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:44 pm
Wow incredible!!!
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:46 pm
I've always wanted to get somewhere as far as this. day...
Waiting on AE2 to help me get their!
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:46 pm
Yea nice! :) Thanks from Poland!
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:48 pm
I saw this shot, and it was amazing. Although rather reminded me of terminator..
July 7th, 2009 @ 5:57 pm
Andrew thankyou for sharing this with us it was an interesting post! :D

I think it would be cool if you posted more news like this about the VFX world however only every now and then when you find something cool! :D

How about maybe including a segment in upcoming vlogs about the vfx industry ? ;) just a thourght...
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:00 pm
hey, it's a clip from TF2 ROTF!
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:01 pm
Just read this at CGSociety. Too amazing.
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:06 pm
Yeah I saw it on
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:07 pm
wow that's awesome I think that all those people behind the visual effects are grouped in one man that man you Andrew thx
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:10 pm
that's CRAAAAAAZY!!!!!! in an AWESOME way haha
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:11 pm
It did remind me of reminded me of terminator also Will
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:23 pm
lampara tanta movida para hacer solo dos segundos xD increible de verdad
Gracias por la nota Andrew
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:33 pm
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:38 pm
I don't know... Kramer would have done that in like 2 days.
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:44 pm
That looks really interestin.
July 7th, 2009 @ 6:48 pm
Very interesting... Lots of work for 40 frames.
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:04 pm
I for one would definitely love to read about your opinion and thoughts on the works of others, be it breakdowns, critiques, or even just simple congrats when people in the industry discuss and share knowledge openly everyone wins
Diego G.
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:17 pm
It's nice to see how people spent a lot of time for a short period of a movie, although the final result is very, very amazing... :D I'm impressed... ;D
Dave B
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:24 pm
That type of stuff makes me more inspired to live life =) ... those people must have been really passionate about their work to have the will power to complete something like that.

.. bet the pay wasn't bad either lol
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:25 pm
i saw the movie and didnt even notice all that until know what i saw was just a normal transformation coz it was 2 second i think for a 2 second clip you dont need that much detail but still intresting to know how much work is needed for 40 frames
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:30 pm
I love these little articles and if you post them then I can kill 2 birds with one stone and won't have to go to other websites. neat
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:37 pm
I think DD did an awsome job, if i was working there i'd probably poo myself if Mr M. Bay came upto to me and asked us for a last min job, but they did as they were asked and did extra for Mr. Bay. good work DD.


p.s - It's all about the finest attention to detail.
July 7th, 2009 @ 7:47 pm
CGSociety did a bigger article on it. CHeck it out.
July 7th, 2009 @ 8:05 pm
I think that's great now we can have a little mini Cinefx magazine article on here!
July 7th, 2009 @ 8:21 pm
That's insane, poor people.

When I visited Digital Domain they were working on Speed Racer, one of the Maya artists told me about how the stadium course model took about 2 - 3 months in all. I thought that was intense and even then they at least used the model for two or three scenes.
July 7th, 2009 @ 8:35 pm
Awesome! its AMAZING how they model stuff like that, im just beginning 3d and that seems WAY to hard!!!
July 7th, 2009 @ 9:07 pm
thank you andrew
Kenny W
July 7th, 2009 @ 9:15 pm
This was a really cool read, Il like to see more links to articles like these andrew!
July 7th, 2009 @ 10:26 pm
I asked them for the AE project file but no response till so far??? haha

I like the modelling of those 2 boobs, gonna try that on my own missy!

Just joking, real cool work!

Grtz from the Netherlands
July 7th, 2009 @ 10:34 pm
i like horror movies . But I don't like this scary face it's scare me..
Ze frenchie ( aka inferior creatures for you , english gods )
July 7th, 2009 @ 11:07 pm
Superbe partie de vidéo! Mais j'ose croire que le budjet de cette dernière aurait pu être mise autre part...
The Real Smithy
July 7th, 2009 @ 11:22 pm
i Always feel sorry for the VFX departments. Especially Digital Domain - cos its actually owned by Michael Bay, so he is their boss. Directors come up with crazy stuff which sound cool but its the poor lads at DD that have to solve the problem and make it look good. Hats off to Digial Domain and ILM, superb VFX.
July 7th, 2009 @ 11:29 pm
Awesome scene, even though the Movie was'nt worth it, as bad as it was. You should deifnetly share such "outside stories" more often.
July 7th, 2009 @ 11:34 pm
Hi Andrew,
If you're searching for interesting articles about SFX/VFX please visit
(sorry in french anly)
Articles are writen by Alain Bielik, a very cool french guy
Have a nice day ;-)
July 7th, 2009 @ 11:47 pm
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:11 am
I love this kind of stuff, please keep posting!
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:12 am
Keep them coming Andrew. Great find
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:53 am
Yes, I think is very interesting share articles about motion graphics & VFX. There's alot to learn from and it also useful for projects inspiration.

thanks Andrew.
Gijs de Fijter
July 8th, 2009 @ 1:01 am
Damn, that looks nice! I love the work of Micheal Bay!!! :P im gonna watch the movie in aobut 1 hour now :P looking forward to it!!

Amazing effects!

Andrew, keep them going, you helped very much with my projects! THNX!

Gijs from The Netherlands
July 8th, 2009 @ 3:11 am
very cool article, i always read Gizmodo but somehow i mist that one.
James price
July 8th, 2009 @ 3:37 am
It would be cool if you kept the article section seperate..and maybe link them to relevant tutorials you have made..or create tutorials that simulate visual effects/ techniques that are featured in movies.
July 8th, 2009 @ 5:20 am
I bet Andrew could do a tutorial on this in 45 minutes.

Btw yes I'd be interested in more posts like this, I check your site once or twice a day and usually nothing has changed so I think there's plenty of time for articles like this once in a while.
July 8th, 2009 @ 5:38 am
I completely agree with you
tyrone the bamboozle
July 8th, 2009 @ 6:20 am
really interesting stuff , it made me visit Digital Domain website to watch their reels , I can see why they are your favorite, true artists
July 8th, 2009 @ 6:23 am
I completely agree with sharing stuff from outsiders :)
July 8th, 2009 @ 6:41 am
I love behind the scenes of all films. If you created this as another section of your website devoted to reviewing top of the line effects and how they can be achieve (Not always) by the run of the mill motion graphics artist. That or at least it could serve as a forum for understanding motion graphics.
July 8th, 2009 @ 6:51 am
crazy, really much steps to made this real looking robot...
but the film is one of the best this year ^^
July 8th, 2009 @ 6:53 am
its just crazy whats done today with cg stuff... i watched the DD videos and it is crazy... even normal streets sometimes arent real and you wouldn't even think about it!

3 months... puuhhh
July 8th, 2009 @ 6:59 am
behind the scenes of the c. case of Benjamin Buttons are impressive.

July 8th, 2009 @ 9:18 am
Interesting Andrew!!!!!
July 8th, 2009 @ 10:07 am
Interesting point having to do it manually. I was having a debate with my friend about the future of 3d animation. And he said that in 15 years or so, we'll look back on this animation and laugh at how bad it is. This got me thinking. How much will actually change, how much more real can real get? I think the major thing that will change is the rendering times. With faster computers comes greater possibilities at more detailed animation. Alot of the transformers animations were covered by dust particles, or parachutes. I think the future of animation will be dependent on how fast pc's will become and their rendering capabilities. Who knows, in a few years time we could become part of the movie!
Wcl Nc
July 8th, 2009 @ 10:27 am
Could you do that by yourself andrew? =p
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:06 pm
Man... I thought my mirror replacement rotoscopings were time consuming.
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:25 pm
Personally I think it looks much better in motion then it does in stills.
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

I could do it in about 3 mins.


This film doesnt even have any plot so there is no spoiler what-so-ever.

Nice one AK.

I do think that it is a good idea this vfx posting.
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:32 pm
Awesome with some interesting articles!
Please DO post these articles, they're awesome :)
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:50 pm
Superb idea to share CG stories. I'm still baffled at how Digital Domain did the horses, made of water, in Lord of the Rings. I know they talk about it in the LOTR DVD extras, but nevertheless that is fine CG and compositing (all those passes!)
So i'm all in trying to analyze a certain shot and trying to re-create it just to get better.
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:51 pm
By the way, the reels at Digital Domain (and Weta Digital, too) are just sooooo delicious.
July 8th, 2009 @ 12:56 pm
Excellent. Something to show my boss next time he asks "why can't I have my complex motion graphic produced in 20 minutes?"

Very grateful!
July 8th, 2009 @ 2:00 pm
I personally like these types of articles.
Pretty informative, and its a nice look into the real work behind the jaw dropping shots we see in movies :)
July 8th, 2009 @ 2:20 pm
Very nice articel! I wondered how they did that. Not that i'm capable of doing it myself now... Would be cool to have a more indepth tutorial about something like this :)
July 8th, 2009 @ 1:40 pm
Dont you think they could have saved themselves some work by shooting this green screen with some facial markers put in place?
July 8th, 2009 @ 3:14 pm
I didnt like it....looked cheap to me. the wholw movie looked like laundering money process
Frank Wagner
July 8th, 2009 @ 3:26 pm
Great idea in my opinion!

Don´t get high on your own supply ;-)

Keep on rocking Andrew!

mohamed tarek
July 8th, 2009 @ 4:23 pm
go on andrewww ...always show us wats new and the new techniques .... iam a big fan of u man
July 8th, 2009 @ 4:36 pm
July 8th, 2009 @ 4:39 pm
TWO THUMPS UP! amazing story and great idea about posting stories...
if you think you spend a lot of time in the computer ask VFX department...
- GO AK -
July 8th, 2009 @ 4:49 pm
coool andrew u are the best xd
do a tutorial of how to create a transformers an autobot
July 8th, 2009 @ 7:12 pm
merci buuuuuuuut you are biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggger man i like your job
July 8th, 2009 @ 11:12 pm
thanx andrew
n plz share more articles like dis...
jai ho!!
July 8th, 2009 @ 11:54 pm
That sort of info is exactly what we need! ;)
July 9th, 2009 @ 2:23 am
good Job, ese spoiler es de la Pelicula Transformers 2 , Excelent FX
July 9th, 2009 @ 2:38 am
you are the best in after effects, we want more tutorials!!!
cyclone muet
July 9th, 2009 @ 3:22 am
je pense que c'est une excellent idée. cela pourrait nous permettre nous jeune africain qui avons des difficultés pour trouvr des magazine fx d'être informé sur le monde des effets spéciaux, des films et des secietes.
merci encore ANDOU.
July 9th, 2009 @ 3:45 am
Theres some more info on the films effects here.
July 9th, 2009 @ 5:16 am
I like the films very much,expecially the Bumblebee.It's really really very cool.And thanks for Andrew,I've learnt so much knowledge from you,and as an chinese student,I really admire you.
July 9th, 2009 @ 7:04 am
the effect didn´t look good at all, better said it looked horrible. not to make a review or anything, but that character was so pointless. and the animation in the movie itself had to many details. you didn´t see anything in the robot-fights. and wasting 3 months on 2 seconds.. i can´t even comment that..

though, i like the whole thing about you sharing articles. keep it about Andrew:)
July 9th, 2009 @ 7:05 am
keep it up*
July 9th, 2009 @ 7:28 am
We think that You should post such articles more often :D
July 9th, 2009 @ 10:00 am
Video Copilot is a site for learning about VFX. By all means, this includes getting ideas about how experts do things. While the blog should not devolve to only these types of articles, by all means feel free to post one once in a while. After all, it does help.
July 9th, 2009 @ 11:11 am
Isabel Lucas. Oh my god. Just oh. MY GOD <3
July 9th, 2009 @ 12:01 pm
i Think ........................... u the man
July 9th, 2009 @ 1:19 pm
Well if you gotta stare at something for 3 months, she is definitely easy on the eyes.
July 9th, 2009 @ 2:21 pm
Wow! I smell a nomination.
July 9th, 2009 @ 7:13 pm
The most relevant of this article, is that you Andrew can do it the same!!! you just need time, and a know you do!!
Jimmy Williams
July 9th, 2009 @ 8:16 pm
That's ridiculous, a laser scan or her face? I can create her face in just a few hours, lower poly making it easier to animate.

How the heck does it take them 3 months?!?!

They need to hire me and fire all these other folks, seriously, 3 months? You got to be kidding me.

Other than that sad bit, the movie was awesome and the effects teams did a great job.
July 9th, 2009 @ 8:47 pm
Jimmy, I think you are missing the point. It wasn't a planned FX shot.
Stephen Cho
July 9th, 2009 @ 11:04 pm
i Couldn't agree~
that is so ture 2 second in 3 mounths wow
how about U??
July 10th, 2009 @ 2:21 am
Five professional guys, three months, and only two seconds.

Wish the audiences would understand the effort and the time for making such a masterpiece shot.
Peter Somers (TC-Productions)
July 10th, 2009 @ 3:10 am
5 guys and 3 months for 40 frames ...
Even though I think this definitely classifies under the "Frame F***ing" category, at the TV channel I work for, we regularly get correction jobs in that are just a few frames long
but when left untreated, they appear to the untrained eye as a "WTF moment".
Little reflections, unwanted signs, dust spec removal and stuff like that, it's the little details that make a scene either look smooth or glitchy.

And hey, if I was working for DD, would I turn down the kind of money that's involved with this kind of work? HELL NO ! Kerr-ching !!
Jordan Harrop
July 10th, 2009 @ 8:18 am
Andrew.... any way you could make a tutorial
July 10th, 2009 @ 12:02 pm
Hey Andrew, this is a brilliant idea for a tutorial, :))
Morten Enoksen
July 10th, 2009 @ 2:31 pm
What do you guys think about my filmtrailer? It's kind of like James Bond, Johnny English, Austin Powers, and Cops :)
Thank you kindly.
I heard that one of the machines that was rendering this movie, exploded! it burst into fire and some smoke erupted from thr vents!
Ken “the trader”
July 12th, 2009 @ 6:18 pm
thx Andrew, I'd heard of troika but not dd; their reels and vfx work are fantastic - thx for the heads up.
July 16th, 2009 @ 5:20 pm
Very interesting article. I saw the movie and i do remember those forty frames:).
Thanks for posting it Andrew!
Well worth it for all the visual effect junkies.
I'm just interested from a production and post persepctive. Thanks again
- Blake
July 19th, 2009 @ 4:49 am
I though I would have a quick play using some elements in After Effcts, heres a little test. Imagine what you could do with moving footage
July 21st, 2009 @ 9:34 pm
Thanks for posting this.
I found it very interesting
July 29th, 2009 @ 1:18 am
shen shemogvle andrew :*:*:* i love you :*:*:* i dont know english very well but i tell you how i love you :*:*:* for georgia
fareed rashad
August 5th, 2009 @ 7:13 pm
you are a genius I'm glad I found your work very inspiring thank you. I wish you would have publish action essentials2 before I brought the first one.
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