MasterClass: James Cameron Teaches Filmmaking
- Streaming series -
Streaming series
July 20, 2021

CGI environments and green screen compositing for James Cameron’s class on MasterClass.

Visual Effects: Outpost VFX
VFX producer/supervisor: David Gidali
Concept & CG: Shay Goldberg
Tool development: Justin Taylor

When approached to create loopable computer generated environments to serve as backdrop for award-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s class on MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, we faced an interesting conceptual challenge: Our environments needed to channel, but not seem like they were pulled out of, four of his seminal works. For AVATAR, we created a magical bioluminescent forest. For ALIENS, a spacecraft interior covered with creepy alien overgrowth. For TERMINATOR, an industrial factory with rivers of molten steel. And for TITANIC, a chillingly calm underwater seascape.

In order to deploy these environments over a large number of often lengthy green screen shots, and retain the ability to continue to address sweeping design and integration notes which would affect all the shots without having to address them individually, we hired HyperBrew to create a custom After Effects extension. Comp Generator, as we call it, batch generates VFX comps from a selected folder of clips to a selected comp folder with parameters for matching timecode and duration. In order to get the background animations to align, we came up with a few additional options to match or randomize the background in-point. And lastly, we added a custom wildcard naming system the artists could adjust on their end to fit their needs.

In the end, the Comp Generator tool we had Hyper Brew build, automated the processing of hundreds of VFX shots and freed us up to focus on fine tuning these shots to perfection.

Environment stills:

Comp Generator tool screenshot:


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