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How the ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ VFX Team Kept Subjects’ Identities Secret Through ‘Veiling’ Faces

How the ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ VFX Team Kept Subjects’ Identities Secret Through ‘Veiling’ Faces
David France’s “Welcome to Chechnya” could very well make Oscar history as the first documentary to be nominated for Best Visual Effects.

The documentary details the brutality the LGBTQ community faces in Chechnya at the hands of the government. France goes inside the shocking and horrific genocide that Chechnyan leader Ramzan Kadyrov is unleashing on people who live in danger because of their sexual orientation.

Grisha is one of the many brave subjects who go on the record to talk to France about being tortured and beaten at the hands of this regime. But his identity is protected, so that is where Ryan Laney stepped in as visual effects supervisor, using digital face replacement technology.

France reached out after reading an article in The New Yorker about a safe house network in Chechnya and was compelled to tell the story. He contacted the people at the safe house over
See full article at Variety »

Interview: on "Welcome to Chechnya" and putting visual effects to humanitarian use.

Interview: on
by Nathaniel R

Director David France and Visual Effects Supervisor Ryan Laney on "Welcome to Chechnya"

If you haven't yet screened the documentary Welcome to Chechnya, a finalist for Best Documentary Feature, don't delay. The film details the journey of a group of incredibly brave LGBTQ activists in Russia, working to help people escape Russia and Chechnya where the government condones the abduction, torture, and murders of queer people, by denying that it's happening at all. The primary storyline involves "Grisha" (not his real name) a gay event planner who was abducted and tortured in Chechnya while working on a job there.

Due to the unique risks to the people involved and the need to protect their identities, Welcome to Chechnya opted to deploy innovative visual effects rather than the traditional "shot in shadow" or blurred faces you would usually see with anonymous voices in documentary. Now the film finds
See full article at FilmExperience »

Oscars Predictions: Best Visual Effects – ‘Love and Monsters’ and ‘Bloodshot’ Didn’t Make the Shortlist For Nothing

Oscars Predictions: Best Visual Effects – ‘Love and Monsters’ and ‘Bloodshot’ Didn’t Make the Shortlist For Nothing
Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

To see all the latest predictions, of all the categories, in one place, visit The Collective

Draft>>>Pre Season>>>Regular Season>>>Post Season

2021 Oscars Predictions:

Best Visual Effects

Updated: Mar. 4, 2021

Awards Prediction Commentary: “Mank,” “The Midnight Sky” and “Tenet” feel “safe” for the moment and then there are two interchangeable spots that could go to the documentary “Welcome to Chechnya” or perhaps a bigger film like “Mulan” after debuting on Disney Plus.
See full article at Variety »

How VFX Producer Ryan Laney Developed Game-Changing Technology For ‘Welcome to Chechnya,’ Shielding Identities Of LGBT Refugees

How VFX Producer Ryan Laney Developed Game-Changing Technology For ‘Welcome to Chechnya,’ Shielding Identities Of LGBT Refugees
On Welcome to Chechnya, VFX producer Ryan Laney introduced game-changing tools with huge implications for the future of documentary filmmaking.

Directed by David France, the HBO film spotlights anti-gay purges transpiring in Chechnya in the late 2010s, following LGBT refugees as they make their way out of Russia, with the help of a network of activists.

In telling this story, France would have to address a pair of almost paradoxical drives. Because he wanted viewers to invest themselves, emotionally, in the stories of survivors, he knew he needed to give the doc a human face. At the same time, he realized early on that he would have to develop a method of disguise, which would protect the identities of his vulnerable subjects.

Ultimately, Laney would help the director to fulfill both of these objectives by placing “digital prosthetics” over the face of every survivor depicted. With queer activists in New
See full article at Deadline »

‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Soul’ Lead the 19th Visual Effects Society Awards Nominations

‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Soul’ Lead the 19th Visual Effects Society Awards Nominations
It’s truly a measure of the pandemic that the 19th annual Ves Awards (to be held virtually on April 6) was dominated by Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” with 13 nominations (topped by photoreal episode). Like the Oscar shortlist, there was an absence of big budget, VFX-intensive studio films. But, truth be told, Season 2 of Jon Favreau’s engaging “Star Wars” bounty hunter series offered the industry’s most innovative tech (wrapped around Industrial Light & Magic’s improved StageCraft virtual production system).

Pixar’s “Soul” was the top animation contender with five nominations, while the feature competition was split between “Project Power,” the Netflix superhero film, Robert Zemeckis’ “The Witches” (which streamed on HBO Max), and Disney’s live-action “Mulan” (which streamed on Disney+), each garnering three nominations.

Joining “Project Power” and “The Witches” in the top photoreal feature category were Netflix’s “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” and “The Midnight Sky
See full article at Indiewire »

‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Soul’ Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations

‘The Mandalorian’ and ‘Soul’ Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations
The nominations for the 19th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards have been announced with “The Mandalorian” and “Soul” leading.

The Mandalorian” leads with 13 nominations including outstanding visual effects in a photoreal episode. “Soul” was next with five nominations, followed by “The Witches” and “Project Power.”

The Ves awards will be handed out in a virtual ceremony and will stream worldwide on April 6.

“Traditions find a way to persist,” said Lisa Cooke, Ves Board Chair. “With vision and a lot of hard work, we are proud to host our annual celebration of the artistry, ingenuity and passion of visual effects practitioners around the world – virtually. We are seeing best in class work that elevates the art of storytelling and engages the audience in new and innovative ways. The Ves Awards is the only venue that showcases and honors these outstanding artists across a wide range of disciplines, and we are extremely proud of all our nominees!
See full article at Variety »

Ves Awards Nominations: ‘Tenet’, ‘Midnight Sky’, ‘Extraction’, ‘Soul’ & ‘Mandalorian’ Among Titles In Visual Effects Hunt

Ves Awards Nominations: ‘Tenet’, ‘Midnight Sky’, ‘Extraction’, ‘Soul’ & ‘Mandalorian’ Among Titles In Visual Effects Hunt
The Visual Effects Society today announced the nominees for its 19th annual Ves Awards, which recognize VFX artistry in 25 categories spanning film, TV, animation, commercials and video games. Winners will be announced during a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, April 6.

Disney+’s The Mandalorian leads all TV shows and films with 13 noms, and Disney/Pixar’s animated Soul tops the film side with five. Project Power and The Witches tied for second among movies with three noms apiece in a decidedly strange year for VFX-heavy projects.

Vying for the Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature prize are Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, The Midnight Sky, Project Power, Tenet and The Witches. The films up for

Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature are Da 5 Bloods, Extraction, Mank, News of the World and Welcome to Chechnya.

Soul will battle it out for the Visual Effects in an Animated Feature trophy against fellow Pixar pic Onward,
See full article at Deadline »

How ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ Became the First Doc Ever Shortlisted for the Visual Effects Oscar

How ‘Welcome to Chechnya’ Became the First Doc Ever Shortlisted for the Visual Effects Oscar
The first documentary ever shortlisted for Best Visual Effects, “Welcome to Chechnya” beings with a disclaimer acknowledging its use of movie magic: “For their safety, people fleeing for their lives have been digitally disguised.”

The film by director David France (2012’s Oscar nominee “How to Survive a Plague”) is a chronicle of the violence against the LGBT population in the Russian republic of Chechnya. Because being exposed as gay is punishable by torture or death, 23 individuals seen in the film had their faces masked in post-production with the faces of volunteers.

Visual effects supervisor Ryan Laney (‘Ant-Man’) filmed the anonymous volunteers at a Brooklyn studio using an array of nine cameras to data capture their range of expressions. Laney then spent a year at an undisclosed location in California, doctoring the original footage.

France and Laney spoke to TheWrap about making the historic project, days after the Oscars announced that
See full article at The Wrap »

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