Our very own Sara Bennett has been nominated for an OSCAR in the VFX category for Alex Garland’s Ex-Machina, alongside Dneg’s Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris and Mark Ardington. Hurrah!

Team Milk is feeling very proud indeed :)

Congratulations to the Dneg and Milk crews for their beautiful work. Sara and the Dneg team will be jetting off to the OSCARS ceremony on Sunday 28th February

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VFX Brief:
To create a CG brain for AI robot protagonist Ava; a ‘look’ for Ava’s point of view and a range of 2D shots for Alex Garland’s Ex-Machina, working closely with Double Negative.Number of shots: 100 shots
Size of crew: 28
Duration of production: Dec 2013 – May 2014

Scope of work:
Milk’s biggest scene was the design and creation of a CG Ava brain, which is seen during the conversation between Nathan and Caleb in the construction lab. Milk was also tasked with devising a look for AI robot Ava’s point of view – seen at the start of the film when lead character Caleb wins the office lottery and in the bathroom scene. A range of 2d shots also included simple clean ups and monitor inserts.

Ava’s Brain:
For the design of Ava’s brain, Milk was briefed to use jelly fish references while incorporating a computerized ‘tech’ feel in its design. Using Houdini, the build was fully procedural with strong emphasis on the ability to quickly choreograph and combine major features to reduce the turnaround of versions during lookdev. Starting from a sculpted core mesh, a complex set up was built to create the main features of the brain – including frills, tentacles, pores, antennas, wireframe cages and air bubbles. The Milk team opted for a noise driven animation over simulations in order to avoid having to rig and animate each shot separately. Collisions were solved by post deforming wires and meshes using volume collision approaches where necessary. The resulting brain asset was then brought into Maya for shading and lighting using Arnold and finally composited in nuke.

Software used:

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VFX Producer
Nick Drew

VFX Supervisor
Sara Bennett

CG Supervisor
Nicolas Hernandez

VFX Line Producer
Natalie Reid

VFX Co-ordinator
Mariangela Suma

VFX Editor
Collette Nunes

Stefan Brown

Lead Matchmover
Amy Felce

Joe Tarrant, Noel O’Malley, David Jones,
TJ Singh

FX Lead
Luca Zappala

Lead Lighting TD
Jan Schubert

Lighting TD
Dominic Alderson

Lead Compositors
Eleanor Sutton, Matthew McDougal, James Moxon

Clement Hingrai, Henning Glabbart, Iyi Tubi, 
Luan Hall, Luka Leskovsek, Neil Alford, 
Sarah Iduwe, Vasco Cerqueira, Elisa Simoncelli 

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