DNEG VFX experts visit CERN to talk on art and science in movies

Team visits world’s leading scientific research centre in Geneva

DNEG’s Academy award-winning Creative Director, Paul Franklin, along with Graham Jack, Chief Technology Officer, and Oliver James, Chief Scientist, recently enjoyed a special visit to the headquarters of the European Organization for Nuclear Research – better known as CERN.

The trio of VFX experts were invited to the world’s largest scientific research centre to give a talk about art and science in movies. During their talk they shared the stories behind their groundbreaking work on films such as First Man, Blade Runner 2049, and Interstellar. All three of these films won DNEG the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

Movie VFX helping to promote science

Addressing an audience of CERN researchers and employees in Geneva, our speakers shared examples of how VFX techniques have been used to visualise aspects of theoretical astrophysics for movies and discussed how VFX might be used to promote science.

As Overall VFX Supervisor on Interstellar, DNEG’s Creative Director Paul Franklin led a team of DNEG artists and scientists, and collaborated with Nobel Prize-winning physicist Kip Thorne to accurately depict, among other aspects, a supermassive black hole and a Tesseract – a four dimensional space allowing time to be seen as fourth dimension.

To create the stunning imagery of the largest black hole – Gargantua – Oliver James, as Chief Scientist (pictured below), led development of the DNEG Gravitational Renderer. This proprietary tool was the result of a close collaboration between Professor Thorne and the DNEG R&D team.

The tool allows artists to create stunning images of black holes using a combination of astrophysics, mathematics and computer-science to simulate the distortion of light by curved space-time.

Most recently, we used an updated version of the DNEG Gravitational Renderer to create stunning visuals of black holes for Professor Brian Cox’s ‘Universal: Adventures in Space & Time’ world tour.

Oliver James, DNEG Chief Scientist, talks to the audience at CERN about how art and science can work together to support visual storytelling in movies.


CERN on the big screen

CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, and 30 years ago it was the birthplace of the World Wide Web.

The presentation by DNEG was part of the CERN Colloquium, which is a series of regular general interest talks open to CERN employees across all departments.

The prestigious research centre is no stranger to the movies; its Large Hadron Collider featured in Ron Howard’s 2009 thriller Angels and Demons, which DNEG provided VFX for, with Graham Jack as CG Supervisor.

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